Monthly Archives: July 2021

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 31, 2021

2017 Guimaro, Mencia, Finca Meixeman, Ribeira Sacra DO, Galicia, Spain.
One of my favorite wines and favorite people, Pedro Rodriguez’s Guimaro Mencia bottling always bring smiles and offer authentic and terroir driven flavors that capture the soul of their region with pure drinking pleasures and this 2017 Meixeman Cru provides an earthy complexity and depth of fruit that transports you to this remote and ancient growing region in Spain’s wild Ribeira Sacra. Founded in 1991, Guimaro has now become an iconic winery within this small appellation in Galicia, and vigneron Rodriguez, who was mentored by the legendary Raul Perez, the Godfather of Mencia, has grown into his status has as one of the top winemakers in the Ribeira Sacra with a rebellious smile and with lots of classic heavy metal! I have been lucky enough to have spent some time with Pedro, on occasions he was visiting the Bay Area and have done some tastings with him and I really enjoyed his laid back nature and joyous love of life, it was impossible not to be caught up in his passion and humor. His hard work in the vines, really make these wines what they are and when you see the difficulty of hand tending the steep sites, you’d not believe you were looking at Spain, as the Ribeira Sacra “the sacred blanks” looks more like the steepest sections of the Mosel and there are places without any roads, some only accessed by small boats and by foot trails, it is not easy and historically none to profitable to farm these incredible vineyards. This Meixeman starts with a hint of reduction with earth and dark fruits leading the way, it quickly gains itself in the glass, becoming almost Nuits-Saint-Georges like in taste and feel with, a smooth medium body and layers of black cherries, tangy currants, wild plum fruits along with a crunch of mineral, grilled herbs, dried flowers, a touch of peppery spice, leather, woodsy notes and anise.

The Guimaro Finca Meixemán, as the winery notes, comes from a single old vine parcel of 72 year old Mencía vines that are set on schist soils up at about at 450 meters above sea level. This is the original family-owned Cru that started the Rodriguez’s estate and has a special place in their hearts, and in mine too, as I have always been thrilled by this particular wine and it was one of the first I tried from Guimaro. This special cuvée, according to Rodriguez, gets a unique vinification process that is specially tweaked to get the most out of these grapes, more like a traditional old school Burgundy. For the Mexican, in most vintages, the grapes are foot-trodden, with a partial 40% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation in an open top cono or conical wood fermenter. The maceration period is quite long with an extended period on the skins and raspónes, with no additions and almost no sulfur and then this Mencia gets aged for 12-14 months in neutral 225 liter French oak barrels. Pedro works his vines with organic methods and his wines are crafted with natural techniques, everything is done to make his wines have a sense of place and are ultra transparent in style with a feeling of raw openness or nakedness, nothing is covered up or manipulated here. Mencia, the main red varietal in the Ribeira Sacra, as well in the famous Beirzo region where it can be more rich and powerful, is a grape that has elements that will remind you of Syrah, Pinot and Gamay, especially here in this cooler Amandi zone that influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the granite and slate based soils and elevation, where it retains loads of zesty natural acidity. Historically, since Roman times, the most famous Galician wines come from this Amandi area with its steep south facing hillsides above the Sil River, and tasting this Guimaro Meixeman you can see why. I highly recommend searching out these Guimaro wines from their basic tank raised Tinto bottling to their Cru Mencia wines, like this Meixeman and the Camiño Real, plus I love Pedro’s Vino Blanco, made from Godello.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 30, 2021

2012 J. Rochioli, Pinot Noir, River Block, Russian River Valley.
The seriously luxurious 2012 River Block Pinot Noir from Rochioli is one of California’s Grand Cru bottlings with amazing depth and richness, it shows the classic estate character that makes these wines so compelling and sought after, displaying black cherry, raspberry, plum and fig fruits, along with a sweet/smoky kiss of toasty French oak, rose petals, tea spices, cola bean and a lingering touch of tangy blueberry. This wine has a real purpose and presence in the glass and the bit of age has brought out more complexity and allowed the wine and wood elements to become integrated and seamless, the satiny mouth feel is complete seductive, it is a wine that is everything you’d want from a pure California legend. While there are a whole cast of new generation stars and wine that may have more delicacy and nuance, Rochioli still is as good as it gets, these single vineyard or single block wines are incredibly sexy, especially this River Block with its sensual palate and hedonistic fruit density. I find they need almost tens of age to fully reveal their inner beauty and balance, and this 2012 is just starting to unwind and give its best, I can imagine this vintage drinking well if not utterly brilliant for another decade with ease. Originally known as Fenton Acres, the Rochioli names came into being in 1983 as Tom took over the winemaking here and in 1987 they released the first estate wine, the 1985 Rochioli Pinot Noir and the rest they say is history, going on to be one of America’s greatest estates, know primarily for these Pinots, but also with fabulous Chardonnays, an old vine Sauvignon Blanc and even still producing a Valdeguié (once known as Napa Gamay), which I absolutely love and covet.

Joe and son Tom Rochioli are second and third generation Italian farmers and pioneers of Russian River Pinots, they have always believed it was the grapes and individual sites that make the best and most intriguing wines here on their historic estate that sits on sloping hillsides on the bench lands above the near by Russian River, which sucks in the cool Pacific Ocean air, not far from Healdsburg on the famous Westside Road. Because of, the winery notes, the diverse terroir across their 140 acres under vine, Tom, now at the helm here, and his winemaking team ferment each block separately in traditional fashion using a mainly hands off approach, they firmly believe the wine is made in the vineyard and it should not be messed with in the cellar. While this is a common practice in Burgundy, and in California in modern times, Rochioli was one of the first premium Pinot Noir house to employ this a micro-batch hand crafted method. Tom, like his dad, believes that the unique differences between the diverse soils and clonal diversity can be tasted in every terroir here and adds to the regal distinction in each cuvee in the collection and sets their the Russian River estate apart. The River Block, dates back to the late 1980s, was planted using the original West Block selection clone, which is now regarded as a California heritage clone, was most likely the old Martini clone, but regardless it delivers a dark color, dark garnet with ruby edges and impressive structure here, as this sublime example shows. These mailing list only wines from Rochioli remain rare treasures and should be celebrated, finding them is difficult, but oh so rewarding. This winery has to be on any Pinot fans bucket list to visit when in the Sonoma County region and while not cheap, I highly recommend trying these single vineyard wines if you get the opportunity, it should be noted, they seem like remarkable values when compared to Grand Cru Burgundy!
($150 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 29, 2021

2019 Anne-Sophie Dubois “Les Cocottes” Fleurie Cru Beaujolais, France.
How Anne-Sophie Dubois remains under the radar, especially after tasting her 2019s like this gorgeous Les Cocottes Fleurie, is a mystery, these Gamays are enthrallingly beautiful wines that rival Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Morey Burgundies with sublime aromatics, silken textures and lively details with this Cru Beaujolais showing a brilliant dark fruited medium bodied palate. Dubois, a studied vigneron and artist, she drew all of the artwork on the labels, based in Les Labourons call Fleurie home these days even though she grew up in the Champagne region and learned her gifted winemaking skills in the Cote de Beaune’s Volnay appellation, and she grew an appreciation for elegance and subtlety from her experience there. She has applied her considerable talents on her tiny eight hectares in the heart of Fleurie, all of which are now organically farmed, and with the vines, some over 60 years old, these parcels show loads of terroir personality and concentration. The expressive whole bunch, carbonic style and electric ruby/magenta Les Cocottes has a bright inner intensity, but is graceful, perfumed with dark florals and is texturally satiny with Fleurie’s classic strawberry, plum and red currant fruits, as well as a dusting of spices and herbs, adding a touch of mineral crunch and a walnut husk note. This is exceptional Gamay and I could possibly give bit consideration for a dessert island wine, it is that delicious!

Up until the 2015 vintage all of Anne-Sophie’s Fleuries were 100% de-stemmed and fermented in a Burgundian-style fashion with a nod to delicacy and elegance, though this Les Cocottes, her “little sweetie(s)” is different from her usual style, she crafted this Fleurie with 100% whole cluster and using a carbonic maceration, making it her most flamboyant offering, and it is one of my favorites in her stunning lineup, along with her more traditional L’Alchimiste, her signature bottling. Anne-Sophie uses a combination of cement vats, stainless and neutral French oak casks, which each wine demanding an individual approach to bring out the singular parcel’s soulful characteristics with this Les Cocottes coming from Fleurie’s unique pink granite soils, which brings out that heavenly nose of violets, peony and sticky lavender and round profile. As the 2019 opens it gains complexity and the stems add some good contrasting savory and earthy elements that is very seductive, while remaining amazingly drinkable and exciting, very much in league with Dutraive and Lapierre, two of the regions most legendary producers. This is remarkably impressive Beaujolais and when you realize that Anne-Sophie has only been doing this for about 10 years now, you got to admire her work even more. These 2019s are getting pretty scarce now, I’m glad I got a few bottles tucked away, but I highly recommend searching them out, they are classy wines that take Gamay beyond most expectations, with this Les Cocottes proving to be a stylist ready to drink version that can be served with a range of cuisine options and is best with a slight chill, it is a highly entertaining quaffer, perfect for the Summer season.
($33 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 28, 2021

2018 Sandlands Vineyards, Zinfandel, Lodi, California.
The wonderfully balanced and beautiful Sandlands Lodi Zinfandel comes from owner and winemaker Tegan Passalacqua’s own Kirschenmann vineyard, a historic site that is located on or near the Mokelumne River, this is just outside the town of Victor, set east of Lodi in the Central Valley of California. The soils are from the ancient erosion of the Sierra Nevada mountains that tower up to the east that over the years have deposited deep granitic sand and loams. This historic old vineyard, which is lovingly cared for in organic fashion and with classic old school head training, was originally planted back in 1915, and is all on its own roots, while primarily old Zinfandel, there is also a small mix interplanted Carignane, Cinsault, and Mondeuse Noir scattered within the vineyard. This is a special sand unique place and wine, many who have had the Turley Cellars version would agree, and Tegan’s own, which is humbly label just as a Lodi Zinfandel, is an outstanding California red wine of grace and complexity that is pure pleasure in the glass. The Sandlands 2018 Zinfandel gives classic layers of black raspberry, dusty plum, kirsch and a light spiciness along with dried herbs, subtle dark floral and wood notes, what a joy on the full bodied palate this wine is, it seduces completely with its fabulous textural quality and length. This dark purple/garnet Zin tells a story with each sip, revealing its past and present, its terroir and all the while delivering a top notch performance, what more can you ask of a wine?

Passalacqua, as noted many times here, is one of the state’s great winemakers and vineyard managers with an exceptional touch and an encyclopedic knowledge of vines and California’s rich history of wine. His talents are recognized with his efforts for Turley Wine Cellars, but intriguingly these fantastic Sandlands Vineyards wines remain some of the greatest values in California and somehow fly under the radar, these are incredibly delicious wines that hand crafted and made using a minimalist approach with mainly whole cluster and native yeast fermentations and aged in neutral (used) French oak barrels. This Zinfandel, sourced from these silica rich, white sandy soils, which have helped keep these ingrafted vines from dioceses and phylloxera over the more than one hundred years they have been producing grapes, really is a stunner, it reminds me of favorite Ridge, Bedrock and of course Tegan’s Turley wines. I had this wine in a grouping of outstanding Rhone varietal wines that included multiple vintages of Chateauneuf du Pape from highly regarded producers and this old vine Kirschenmann Zin not only held its own, it regally matched them for quality and complexity, while that might be surprising for some, it certainly wasn’t for me as I have long been a fan of this grape and now this producer. This 2018 is ripe and silky lush, but very well judged, at 14.4% natural alcohol, it is not heavy or jammy, again this is an impeccable bottle of California wine that will long been admired by those lucky enough to have a few bottles!
($32 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 27, 2021

2019 Inspiration Vineyards, Rosé of Zinfandel, Little Red Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.
A fun Summer wine, made from Russian River Valley Zinfandel, the Inspiration dry Rosé of Zinfandel is bright and juicy with crisp layers of raspberry water, sour cherry, strawberry and watermelon fruits along with a hint of mineral, spice and tangy citrus as well as a lingering caramel note that gives a sense of roundness and body without any sweetness. This is good example of dry Zin Rosé, that can be very difficult to make with balance between ripeness and vibrant acidity, finding that point is like dancing on the top of a pin, and this one just about gets it perfect and is a refreshing and pleasing wine. I normally pass on Rosés that are made from Syrah, Merlot and or Zinfandel, as they typically don’t have the energy and profiles I go for, but this one impresses and offers a good value, it is easy to sip on and brought a sense of peace.

Jon Phillips, winemaker and owner of Inspiration Vineyards has really raised the game at this popular winery in Santa Rosa, both the wines and the packaging have really got exciting over the last few years and this latest set from the 2018 and 2019 vintages seem like a step up even further, especially with their signature Zinfandel bottlings. This pink Zin comes from a small family vineyard on the famous Olivet Road in the Russian River Valley, an area renown for Pinot Noir and old vine Zinfandel vines that sees warm days and cool Pacific Ocean influenced nights that can see the coast fog that flows up the Russian River making it perfect for growing exceptional quality grapes. The Rosé of Zinfandel, which was whole cluster pressed and saw a short period of skin contact and then raised in neutral French oak, coming in at 12.1% natural is ready to enjoy with BBQs and picnics, drink now. I highly recommend checking out some of the other wines in the Inspiration collection too, like their Russian River Pinot, Syrah, the old vine Estate Zin and the hedonistic Dry Creek Gallaway Vineyard Zinfandel.
($19 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 26, 2021

2018 Pax Malhe, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley.
The 2018 Pax Castelli-Knight Syrah marks the 18th Vintage that Pax Mahle has been working with this exceptional site in the Russian River and the exceptional people that own this vineyard and farm this unique ranch. The bright orange Haire Clay soils that cling to the slopes of this vineyard allow for a retaining of freshness while also allows for a depth of flavors, that Pax describes, as other worldly for California Syrah, which is influenced by the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. While young and remarkably fruity for a newer Pax Syrah, this 2018 Castelli-Knght bursts from the glass with loads of blue and black fruits, dark flowers, minty herbs and loads of spice and on the palate things start off very primary, but it opens up to reveal classic layers of boysenberry, blueberry, sweet kirsch, plum and creme de cassis, along with peppercorns, subtle iron mineral notes, whole bunch crunch and anise. I think I should have waited another few years on this one, but it certainly has lots of appeal, especially with food.

The Castelli-Knight Ranch Russian River Syrah is 100% varietal, 100% whole cluster, 100% indigenous yeast and 100% aged in used 500L French oak puncheons for eleven months, with foot trodden bunches and exceptionally low sulfur, all to be as natural and as pure as possible. Pax says, of his Castelli-Knight Ranch Syrah, that it is rich but balanced, flavorful without being too heavy and of course all the while tasting like Syrah grown on a steep hillside, adding that it is also, very enjoyable and approachable on release, though intense enough to be guaranteed to improve with cellar like every other Castelli-Knight Ranch before it. Pax, rumor has it has it, with a partner, purchased the Halcon Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands, which in my opinion might just be the most interesting site for Syrah in California, most notably for lovers of Cornas and Cote-Rotie wines and I am excited to see what Mahle’s talents will bring to this spectacular vineyard. I am a huge fan of Pax’s Alder Springs Syrah bottling, and it remains one of my favorite Syrahs in California, though this Castelli-Knight isn’t too far behind, it is a good time to invest in the state’s best Syrah wines, and Pax’s are firmly on the list of must haves.
($60 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 25, 2021

2016 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape “Les Silex de Cabrieres” Rhone Valley, France.
The pure and fruit forward Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge is an all tank raised version from Chateau Cabrieres that is made up of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah from mainly younger vines set on a calcareous plateau that has a scattering of the classic galets, the large round river stones that give some of these Chateauneuf sites their signature look, with a base of clay, sand and limestone soils. This bottling is showing very nicely with primary red fruits and subtle earthy elements, spice and dried dark florals, it isn’t a Chateauneuf to bury in the cellar it is for immediate pleasure and this highly regarded vintage makes it even more compelling with briar laced boysenberry, tangy currant, dark strawberry and juicy plum fruits of the fresh Grenache leading the way, pushed up by the light gamey and truffle notes from the Syrah, giving this easy Rhone some added complexity, it finishes with good fruit concentration and roundness, especially joyous considering it was aged without any wood. This Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape is pretty attractive and makes for a quality fresh example, in particular it has the stuffing and opulence to go great with meals and or will a range of hard cheeses. With air and time in the glass a deeper sense comes through along with hints of tar, licorice and savory tones adding a bit of extra dimension here, which maybe highlights the focus on the growing of the grapes from this single vineyard location of the northern area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape zone, which has a slightly cooler climate that adds to the vibrance of this wine.

The Chateau Cabrieres, run by the Arnaud family, with the famous winemaker and consultant Philippe Cambie over seeing the production here, employed an inox, all stainless fermentation here with micro-oxygenation to bring out soft fruitiness in this more clean and sleek Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge bottlings, helping it develop its soft texture and supple medium bodied palate. The upper end cuvees here at Chateau Cabrieres see classic cement cuves and some small barriques and come from much older vineyard selections that include more Mourvedre as well as small does of more legal varietals in the final blends, unlike like this modern style Les Silex, which is more for youthful consumption and much less brooding in nature. The grapes used in the Silex were all de-stemmed and saw a 20 day maceration and fermentation before being raised, as mentioned, in tank for close to six months, where it gets the blasts of oxygen, before being bottled with a light filtration, again to promote an ease of use style. I had not had these wine before and I enjoyed the dark garnet colored 2016 very much and can imagine having a few more bottles over the next 3 to 5 years, for a prestigious region wine, it is very non pretentious, very much more like a quality Cotes du Rhone with its personality and more a bistro country offering, rather than a collectable bottle with its bright flavors and ripe/sweet tannins. The property has been in the Arnaud family for many generations and has a historic castle in the middle of the estate with the winemaking here dating back to 1344 at least, though there is some evidence of early Roman efforts happening here too. Many thanks to friends Maddie and Martin, who visited Avignon and brought back bottles to share.
($35-50 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 24, 2021

2015 Boony Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant, Rhone Style Red Blend, California.
When our local industry tasting group met up to taste and discuss Rhone varietals and the state of Rhone style wines in California, we could not possibly miss a chance to taste one of Randall Grahm’s Cigare Volant bottlings and in this case I pulled my last bottle of his 2015, which is drinking awesome right now as it comes into full maturity and showing an elegant array of red fruits, spice and picking up a nice potpourri of dried flowers and snappy herbs. As the wine, made from 57% Grenache, 17% Cinsaut, 16% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah, opened up it gained richness and a deeper sense of being with black raspberry, plum, pomegranate and fresh picked strawberry fruit core settling in along with touches of wood notes, chanterelles, lavender and cinnamon spice. After sending a note to Randall to tell him this 2015 is in a good place and held its own against a few tasty Chateauneuf, he replied that, the ’15 Le Cigare Volant was the first, last and only vintage that did not contain any wine aged in upright tank(s), adding that It was a blend of used French puncheons and demijohns, the glass carboys that Randall used mainly for his rare Le Cigare Volant Réserve(s). The end of the original Le Cigare Volant line after the 2017 vintage seemed a to be a time of mourning for a very special and innovative wine, these were wines of pleasure and complexity and inspired a whole new way to think about California wine, they will be missed. I have been a long time fan of Grahm’s wines and have really enjoyed his small batch alternative wines in the last 10 years, especially his stunning white wines, which never get the attention they deserve, his Le Cigare Blanc, the Reserve Blanc and Picpoul are some of the best white wines in California.

The name “Cigare Volant”, Randall says of his iconic creation, and the term “Rhône Ranger” are arguably, in his words, quite brilliant for their vivid memorability, but they may also carry with them a certain tragic flaw or two, though he may be harder on himself than needs be and we owe his vision and risk taking a huge bit of gratitude. In the end he felt boxed in, I think and craved something new, and now after the sale of his Bonny Doon label he starting a new planting project to create 10,000 new varietals at his own Popelouchum estate in San Benito’s San Juan Bautista, as well as continuing with some heritage Rhone grapes, including the rare Grenache Gris and the ancient Serine Syrah clone. Back to the past, Randall explains, the term “Le Cigare Volant” makes reference to the crazy (but effective) ordinance adopted in 1954 in a village in Châteauneuf, which by decree prohibited the landing of UFOs in their vineyards! In fact it still is in the wine law of the region. Grahm continues that “Flying Cigars” are the French term for cylindrically shaped unidentified flying objects (UFOs), hence his play on this with his Le Cigare Volant label name and artwork. Randall adds, to help contextualize what would be an “American Rhône,” the name alludes to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in a sly, ironic way, which was his intention all along. In brand new news, Randall has just entered into a new partnership with the Gallos, of all people, to craft an interesting new line of wines using the creative genius of Grahm’s brain and the business and vineyard resources of America’s biggest family owned winery, and this unlikely pair will release their first offering, an intriguing Tibouren and Cinsault Rosé bottling under the new The Language of Yes label, it should not be missed! The 2015 Le Cigare Volant is still out there in the wild, I highly recommend chasing it down if you can, it is in a nice place right now, Bravo Randall, and good luck with your new project!
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 23, 2021

2020 Jolie-Laide, Clairette Blanche, Martian Ranch, Santa Barbara County.
Scott Schultz’s new Clairette Blanche is an absolutely beautiful white Rhone wine with clear and opulent layers of stone fruits, melon and racy citrus oil that feel lush and graceful on its medium to full bodied palate, but backed up nicely by mineral tones and bright acidity, this is a very alluring Summer wine. This Clairette Blanche, or Clairette grape, which is one off the rare Chateauneuf du Pape white grapes and also found in the prestigious areas of Provence, including the Cassis AOC and in the Bandol AOC, where you’ll find it in some of the region’s most desirable wines like Clos Ste Magdeleine and in the fabled Domaine Tempier Bandol Blanc, and is now showing huge potential here in California, where it has been championed by Tablas Creek, who brought the best clones from Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape, where it has been a bit of secret sauce for their awesome Chateauneuf Blanc for years, as well as Randal Grahm of Bonny Doon fame, who believes it and Vermentino have big promise here. The Jolie-Laide version has some of the French soul to it, but with California clarity and ripe sunny flavors, opening to fresh picked apricot, white peach and tangerine as well as having some excellent dry extract, saline and hints of wet stones, making it delightful with a range of cuisine choices as well as easy to sip on its own, it is very impressive stuff.

The Jolie-Laide Clairette Blanche was, as Schultz explains, all whole-cluster pressed, settled then racked to a combination of stainless steel and neutral barrique for fermentation and moved to all neutral French oak Burgundy style barriques to complete full malo-lactic conversion during its 6-month elevage on the fine lees. Schultz adds that all the grapes were hand picked from organic vines at the biodynamic Martian Ranch Vineyard in Los Alamos, as he calls a bucolic site set on Chamise Series (sandy loam) soils and has a very similar warm climate to the South of France, but with a good cooling influence from the Pacific Ocean which allows for exceptional balance and freshness, as this wine shows in spades. This Clairette is still lively and youthful, primary in flavors, but you can see it will evolve wonderfully well with more floral details that are just starting to appear and hint of honeycomb or waxiness, plus some spicy elements that really reminds you of the grape’s origins. Schultz notes that typically the grape is used as a blender in most Chateauneuf whites to bring acidity to the sometimes fatter varieties, like Roussanne, but can be found in some iconic mono-varietal cuveés of top houses, as he adds, like Chateau Prefert et al. Clairette, as Scott goes on, as it’s often called, can make everything from sparkling, light and crispy or left to hang longer for a richer and more complex style of wine, like his own, which I highly recommend! I was late getting on the Jolie-Laide list, but these latest two release offerings have been awesome!
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 22, 2021

2019 Ryme Cellars, Fiano, Russian River Valley.
The golden/yellow Ryme Fiano is a delicious and impressively structured white wine with a beautiful mouth feel along with an array of sunny flavors that include peach, apricot, Sorrento lemon and honeyed pear, as well as round leesy notes, citrus blossom, wet and salty stones. While expressive, this 2019 Fiano stays very crisply detailed and bone dry, it is very faithful to its classic Southern Italian cousins and is another exceptional California version of a top quality example of an Italian grape or Cal Ital, that have really come a long way in recent years. The Fiano comes from the Bowland Vineyard, which Ryme notes, is located just off of Barns Road in the Russian River Valley and benefits from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and the regions warm sunny days. I have not had a better California Fiano than this one and it goes beautifully with a range of foods, including soft cheeses, sea food and especially with grilled spicy shrimp and pasta, it gets even better as it opens and keeps its nice acidity throughout. This medium bodied white is drinking fantastically well right now, I’m glad I gave it the extra six months in the cellar and love where it is at and the pleasures of its supple form and gaining maturity.

Ryme’s 2019 Fiano, made by the talented couple of Megan and Ryan Glaab, was whole-cluster pressed to neutral French oak, after which the wine completed both primary and malo-lactic fermentation(s) with only spontaneous native yeasts and bacteria. It also saw, as the Glaab’s note, close 10 months in barrel before being bottling, with the wine resting on its fine lees. I have been blown away with Ryme’s latest collection of releases, this is a label to follow, in particular I am thrilled by their lineup of Cal Itals like their Aglianico(s), the Vermentino(s), both with and without skin contact and the totally unique Sangiovese and Friulano blend, a wine that should be served slightly chilled and enjoyed with friends, as well as the very in vogue Ribolla Gialla white. Fiano, an aromatic varietal, is an ancient white Italian wine grape that is grown primarily in the Campania region of Italy and most famously in the Avellino zone, where there is the prestigious Fiano di Avellino DOCG, though Fiano is also found on Sicily and as far away as Argentina and Australia. The grape’s emergence in California is very welcome and it now has a home here with quality plantings in Dry Creek Valley, Paso Robles and here in the Russian River, to name a few places in thrives. This vintage is sold out at the winery, but I hope the new vintage will be out soon, get on their list!
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive