Monthly Archives: October 2021

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 24, 2021

Latest Review

2020 Terrevive Bergianti, San Vincent, Rosé Sparkling Wine, Emilia Romagna, Italy.
Named after the patron saint of wine, the dry and zesty “San Vincent” is made entirely from the local Sorbara, which, according to the winery, may in fact be related to Pinot Meunier, but little evidence of that can be found, and is mainly known for its presence in Lambrusco wines. Most commonly accepted, is that the grape Lambrusco di Sorbara is an indigenous variety of ancient origin that most likely was a crossing of wild grapes in this region. The Lambrusco di Sorbara produces ruby red colored wines with a pinkish froth and is the lightest of the four red varieties of Lambrusco near the village of Sorbara, between the Secchia and Panaro rivers, around the better known and historic town of Modena, where it is a cherished and celebrated for its delicacy and vitality. Sorbara is regarded as the best of the various specified Lambrusco clones, though due to its natural small yields it tends to be blended with other varietals, especially in full DOC wines, its best qualities include its highly fragrant and floral character, its elegant underlying minerality and its zippy acidity. Winemaker, Gianluca Bergianti employs a low-tech ancient method, adding grape must and nothing else to his dry wines as they’re being bottled for their secondary fermentation. Then Bergianti allows the leftover natural yeasts devour the sugars in the must, creating a gentle natural effervescence in each bottle, which is completed in about three months. This fabulous Rosé sparkling shows fresh ruby grapefruit, tart cherry, gauva, strawberry and peach fruits along with snappy spices, dried herbs, mineral tones and a fine dry saline stoniness all lifted by the vibrant and zesty beading of the creamy mousse. This region has seen an unbelievable rise in quality and elegance with this Terrevive wine, by Gianluca Bergianti, along with Roberto Maestri’s Quarticello, Della Volta and Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena, all are very serious and delicious efforts.

Bergianti’s “San Vincent” is a wine made from red grapes produced with the ancestral method of re-fermentation in the bottle and was born as a result of a trip to the Champagne region of France. At first this wine was produced to be enjoyed during the festivals dedicated to San Vincent, the patron saint of vineyards and winemakers, but has now become a wine with worldwide appeal and highly sought after by enthusiasts. The grapes, which are all organically grown, come from vines grown on this regions loamy soils and raised with non intervention methods. After hand harvesting of the Sorbara grapes, fermentation occurs spontaneously with native yeasts in concrete tanks, with the second or re-fermentation happening in the bottle. There was, as the winery notes, no clarification or filtration and only a very small dose sulfur before bottling. The San Vincent frizzante rosato spent two years on the lees, which adds a sensation of depth and gives a richness to the palate. While the local wines, some of which are bottled under the Lambrusco rules, traditionally come in frizzante and spumante forms, and in various levels of sweetness, but Bergianti has gone their own way, inspired by Champagne Boulard, a grower producer of delicious bubbly and maybe why they want to believe there is a relation between Sorbara and Meunier. Gianluca’s “San Vincent” Rosato Frizzante comes from and speaks of Terrevive’s immaculately tended vineyards, all set on the zone’s typical sandy loamy soils, highlighting his obsession with working holistically with the land, it certainly has a sense of place. This crisp bubbly goes great with food, everything from spicy pasta dishes to sea food stews or shellfish, as well as being fun all on its own, this is quality and impressive stuff! These modern Lambrusco Frizzante wines are not your Grandpa’s cheap, rustic and rough versions, these new Lambruscos are stylish and have complex delicacy, I highly recommend discovering this new generation, small production, hand crafted examples.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 23, 2021

2020 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Trocken, Estate, Nahe, Germany.
Donnhoff, based in Oberhäusen on the Nahe, is one of my favorites and I was excited to try this 2020 Estate Trocken to gain insights on the year which is getting quite a lot hype, it delivers the goods with steely crisp detail and depth way beyond its price point, this wine is always a joyous bargain and never disappoints. The Estate Trocken Riesling has an intense mineral dimension and loads of lively acidity, but still provides a pleasing depth of flavors and ripe fruit density, it shows bright citrus upfront and tangy stone fruit, with lime, green apple, tart apricot and zippy quince leading the way here and nicely accented by mouth watering saline, wet stone, flinty spices, bitter herbs, white flowers and lemony verbena. This vintage one not to miss at this place and this “baby” Donnhoff will be your guilt free drinker, while you age the Cru bottlings. Donnhoff’s vineyard sites have a complex combination of soils that goes from classic slate to volcanic, with löss, quartzite, gravelly loams, limestone and sandstones. These soils give each wine their own personality and charm, with the Estate Trocken seeing a mix of sites to showcase the quality of the Donnhoff’s holdings. This refreshing and energy filled Dry Riesling will be great with a range of cuisine choices, though I would love it with oysters and briny dishes and it very enjoyable as a low alcohol sipper as well.

The Dönnhoff are some of the world’s finest and they are certainly are the pride of Germany and their region, the family, as they note, arrived in the Nahe region over 200 years ago, and their modest farm has slowly evolved into a top wine estate. Helmut Dönnhoff was the first to bring international fame to this prestigious winery and has been making wine since 1966, and now Cornelius, his son who is the 4th generation to run this historic property and their amazing collection of VDP Grosse Lagen (Grand Cru) vineyards. Cornelius is one of top vignerons in Europe and his wines, which range from briskly dry, like this bone dry Estate Trocken to the heavenly luscious, from Spatlese to Eiswein, which rivals the world’s great sweet wines, are impeccable terroir driven masterpieces. To preserve laser-like focus and clarity in the wines, Cornelius, as he notes, presses the grapes as soon as possible after picking, all to deliver precision of form. Donnhoff’s wines are fermented in traditional German casks, both in classic 1200L stuckfass and the larger 2400L doppelstuck, as well as in stainless steel tank, as this Estate Trocken was, with spontaneous fermentation(s). Interestingly Donnhoff’s cellar has the capacity to hold all of its production entirely in stainless steel or in wood cask, which gives Cornelius the flexibility to promote each vintage’s character, allowing for the perfect élevage for any wine in the lineup. I am really excited for these 2020s and this was my first taste of the vintage from the Nahe and I was expecting a lot, and this wine exceeded my expectation!
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 22, 2021

2018 Weingut Friedrich Becker, Chardonnay, Schweigen Cru, Pfalz, Germany.
The Becker Schweigen Chardonnay is a mind blowing wine of class, mineral intensity and depth with true wow factor personality and seductive charm, it shows a laser focus that rivals Montee de Tonnere, the Chablis Premier Cru (site) that is one of the world’s great Chardonnay terroir driven vineyards! Thank you to Christian Adams, a German wine specialist, who enthusiastically reps Becker here in California and brought this majestic bottle to me, it really impressed me and while I’m a long time fan of Becker, I mostly have had only his remarkable Pinot Noirs from his estate in the Pfalz that actually straddles the border between Germany and France with his vines set in both countries on mix of sandstones with, as Becker says, gently rising vineyards and surrounded by the serene and picturesque Palatinate forest. Interestingly enough, Becker uses most of his Chardonnay grapes for his Sparkling (Sekt) wines and only selects his absolutely best bunches for this single vineyard Schweigen bottling, making it a rare treat, especially this vintage. The Becker Schweigen Chardonnay has a striking nose of crushed stones, white flowers, hazelnut and a flinty note before opening up on the crisply dry/steely medium bodied palate, delivering divine Chard purity with racy acidity, but with well ripened citrus, delicate peach and classic green apple and Bosc pear fruit. This wine is electric in mouth, again remind me of Chablis, and is accented by clove spice, salty wet rock, subtle wood and brioche, gaining a graceful roundness and opulence with air.

The winemaking at Weingut Friedrich Becker is patient and gentle with each vineyard seeing care hand sorting and the grapes see an even more careful selection in the cellar with the musts starting with spontaneous yeast fermentation in steel tanks, after which Becker racks to barrels for aging, with the 2018 Schweigen Chardonnay seeing about a year in French oak, with up to 40% new wood. The winery is run by father and son, Friedrich (Fritz) senior and junior, and as mentioned, this Weingut makes some of the most compelling Pinot Noirs in Germany, they even mentor and collaborate with other Pinot producers in the country, such is the talents they have with this varietal. The Becker wines were introduced to me by Tim Gaiser, one of the most knowledgable sommeliers in America, and is an expert on Germany’s wines, it was at that time before I’d taken my first trip to the German wine regions and I was so moved by Becker’s and Mayer-Nakel’s Spatburgunders (Pinot Noir) I made it a prior to search them out, and now I am just as excited to explore the Chards. The Becker estate has been a sustainable farm for many generations, but it was Friedrich Sr that first realized the potential of grape vines here, and back in 1973, Friedrich Becker Sr. filled his first bottles with the winery’s iconic fox on the label, and the rest, as they, is history. Becker is a proud member of the VDP and his estate (Cru) wines, such as this White Burgundy like Schweigen Chardonnay, are Erste and Grosse Lagen sites, recognized as special sites for exceptional quality. Becker also farms, non estate sites in the area and bottles those as Becker Family Wines and they are outstanding values, in particular, their Pinot Blanc, which I also tasted and review in the near future.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 21, 2021

2017 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
The 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir from Greg Brewer at Brewer-Clifton is wonderfully expressive and has a beautiful play between ripe fruit and savory tones, it is more complex than one would expect from the basic cuvée and proves this winery is continuing to innovate and make thrilling avant grade wines from the sandy soils and cool climate of the Sta. Rita Hills region. Bright and vibrant in profile still, this is still tightly would and it gets fuller, rounder and lengthy as it opens fully after an hour, making for a impressive performance for this Pinot that radiates with a ruby glow in the glass delivering a mix of reds fruits, spice, minty herb, mineral and hints of umami, dried flowers and blood orange. After a few minutes and a few swirls there is pretty rose petal, earthy loaminess, a touch of subtle wood and the fruit becomes more defined showing black cherry, pomegranate and strawberry. The 2017 vintage comes in at a healthy 14.5%, but in the mouth it feels cooly crisp and there is very light heat and it stays lively and fresh, while gaining a satiny grace with air and it is a wine that is best enjoyed with food.

As I have mentioned in my prior reviews, Greg Brewer’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir cuvee sees only neutral barrels (well seasoned) of French oak and is a selection of the best lots of each of the estate farmed vineyards. Depending on the vintage, Brewer-Clifton goes for all whole cluster fermentation(s) to make some racy wines that have quite a pop and get more and more aromatic with time, highlighting the nervy/tension nature of the stem inclusion, as this wine shows. This wine is usually made up of the three main Brewer-Clifton estate farmed sites, that includes the 3D, Machado, and Hapgood vineyards. According to Brewer and team, the 3D Vineyard, expresses a primary emphasis on it’s predominantly sandy soils, it’s main focus is Chardonnay planted here, but there is a small block of Pinot Noir here planted to classic Swan and Pommard as well as some 667 and 828 clone(s) that really stands out, then there is their Machedo Vineyard, a 15 acre parcel on the Machado family land that is located adjacent to Clos Pepe and immediately behind the Kessler-Haak site contains a selection of Pommard, Merry Edwards, Mount Eden, and 459 clone(s) on rolling terrain with sand, clay and loam soils. The latest releases from 2018 and 2019 look to be absolutely rockstars, so even if you can’t find this one, they are well worth your attention!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 20, 2021

Latest Review

2019 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe, Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
The Kruger-Rumpf Scheurebe comes exclusively from the VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) Dautenpflänzer old vines which were planted in the 50s on pure quarzite and was fermented and aged in stainless steel using natural yeasts. This 2019 version is exotic and sweet fruited with tropical notes, like passion fruit and pineapple, and zingy spearmint, mineral tones, white blossoms and spice. Georg Rumpf is one of Germany’s Scheurebe maestros and as I have said many many times, this is one of the best examples in Germany and while a Spatlese and quite sweet on the medium bodied palate it has fabulous balance and goes great with food, providing refreshment to spicy Asian dishes. The Kruger-Rumpf estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim, a small village on the western side of the Nahe River, in the most northern section of this region, at the intersection of four major German wine regions: the Nahe where the winery is located, the Rheingau and Mittelrhein to the north, Rheinhessen to the east. The majority of Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings are located on the western side of the Nahe, though they also own parcels directly across the Nahe River in Binger Scharlachberg, which is part of the Rheinhessen and is an amazing south facing amphitheater. Standing in Kruger-Rumpf’s parcels in Rheinberg (Nahe), you can look out to Scharlachberg across the Nahe River in Rheinhessen, as well as the southern bend of the Rheingau and the Rudesheimer Berg Crus, one of the most famous parts of the region, visible to the north. Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings represent some of the greatest Riesling terroirs in this famous area with south-facing exposures and a combination of Nahe soils that include slate, loess, sandstone, quartzite, volcanic and loose gravels with many Grosses Gewachs parcels. Kruger-Rumpf, along with Muller-Catoir, who do a trocken, are my favorite producers of the rare Scheurebe varietal, and I recommend exploring both.

Scheurebe is an unique grape found primarily in Germany, but also in Austria where it can also be called Sämling 88, Scheurebe was created by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu, (hence the name, which was made official in 1945) in 1916, when he was working as director of a grape-breeding institute in Alzey in the Rheinhessen region, by crossing Riesling with an unknown wild vine, though not confirmed and according to official Austrian sources it is in fact a cross between Riesling and Bouquet Blanc. Münsterer Dautenpflänzer: Grand Cru, Loess, subsoil is quartz – Daute means “shoot” and pflänzer means “plant”, an homage to the fact that this was once a nursery. South facing, the older section is steep, and this Grosse Lage vineyard is a bowl shape, catching the sun and giving exceptional ripening. Georg is committed to organic viticulture and while they have been practicing organic for several years, they have started the transition for certification. Bees are kept nearby to facilitate pollination and aid in overall bio-diversity. Periodically sheep are allowed to roam the vines helping to control underbrush. All vineyards are hand harvested to ensure that only optimally ripe grapes are selected. Stefan believed that “you can’t improve wine in the cellar, only make it worse,” and Georg has continued his cellar work with this philosophy in mind. Fermentations occur spontaneously with ambient yeast for the fruity wines, like this one. I will always cherish my last visit to Kruger-Rumpf, in the Fall of 2016, watching Georg Rumpf get into harvest action and touring the vineyards with him and his father Stefan, who founded this remarkable winery, where I got to see my favorite site, the Abtei as well as tasting the Scheurebe off the vine. The Scheurebe 2019 transported me back to the Nahe and brought an amazing sense of peace and pleasure, it is pure joy in glass and was perfectly matched to my Indian curry and chickpea meal, it is hard to imagine a more satisfying wine and it’s an outstanding value.
($24 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 19, 2021

2019 A. A. Badenhorst Family Wines “Secateurs” Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa.
The crisply dry and zesty pure Secateurs Chenin is a superb value from Badenhorst with fresh citrus blossoms, peachy fruit and subtle earthy notes makes for a easy to love white from South Africa’s Swartland region that is fun sipper and or a solid choice with Fall cuisine choices. The Chenin grapes, for this wine, mostly come from Badenhorst’s Kalmoesfontein estate, which is on the northern side of the Paardeberg Mountain. The grapes are hand picked with great care and chilled overnight in a cold room. The following day they are whole bunch pressed to a settling tank, with some of the juice, close to 25%, is also fermented in older casks and big foudres which gives a depth of complexity to this Chenin or Steen as they call the grape locally, with the rest seeing time on its lees in a combination or concrete tanks and old casks, to give an extra degree of texture and roundness. This lightly golden Chenin adds layers of lemon, melon, light clove spice and un-sweetened orange honey and a hint of creamy waxiness, this vintage is a bit lighter and more vibrant in style than some years. This edition of Secateurs retains good vibrant acidity and has a fine stony note as well as a saline element that is mouthwatering, it is wine that is best enjoyed young and vividly expressive.

Adi Badenhorst is one South Africa’s leading winemakers, he is member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and a founding member of the Swartland Revolution, focused on regional terroir and natural expressions, as his importer Broadbent Selections adds, an ever evolving vigneron producing a wide range wines, including his signature bottlings and the bargain Secateurs line up. AA Badenhorst was originally founded In 2008, when cousins Hein and Adi Badenhorst purchased their Kalmoesfontein farm in the Paardeberg area in Swartland. Together, as they explain, they restored a cellar that had been neglected since the 1930′s, but where they now make natural wines in the traditional manner. The vineyards on Kalmoesfontein farm are made up of very old bush-vines planted with Chenin Blanc (average 40 years old), Cinsault (average 45 years), and Grenache (average 58 years) and these organic vines are non-irrigated and farmed mainly biologically as much as possible. The 2019 Secateurs Chenin Blanc is pretty much a hundred percent Chenin, but can have some small amounts of Palomono and maybe a touch of another un-named varietal, which also adds a uniqueness to this wine, which is delicious on its own or with soft cheeses and or sea food dishes. In recent years I have really been impressed with Adi Badenhorst’s top end single varietal wines, like his Old Vine Cinsault and Tinta Barocca, which are serious wines well worth searching out.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 18, 2021

2019 Theopolis Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Estate, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
The outrageously exciting and delicious 2019 Theopolis Estate Petite Sirah is maybe my favorite vintage to date from Theodora Lee and her this iconic terraced vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands with a marriage of pure California fruit and a almost Northern Rhone spicy complexity that is in totally harmony here, while providing a thrilling tension and unique experience. Fermented with 35% whole clusters in open top stainless steel tanks and seeing a full extraction and lengthy maceration that as given a hedonistic richness with the nice contrasting crunchy whole bunch savory tones. To allow for maturity and supple tannins the latest Theopolis Petite was aged in 30% new French Oak barrels for 20 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. There is a lot to unpack on the nose and palate here with a heady mix of deep fruit, florals and intense spices with layers of black brambly raspberry, damson plum, blueberry and kirsch along with cracked peppercorns, tapenade, mineral and cedary toast wood accents. This full bodied wine has an inky color in the glass and opens up to reveal a well structured backbone, but with a sense of chocolatey round tannins as well as lingering with peony and creme de cassis, making for a fabulous pure Petite Shirah experience that is best enjoyed with robust cuisine, with Theodora saying it is an excellent pairing with smoked brisket, braised short ribs, grilled steak, and wild game.

As mentioned in my prior reviews, Theodora Lee’s Theopolis Vineyards is one of the top sites for Petite Sirah in California, her vines hug steep terraces in the Yorkville Highlands and have received amazing critical acclaim since being established in 2003, with her success first coming from the wines made by Mike Officer at Carlisle, and more recently with Paul Gordon’s Halcon version. Her own wines, which I first started tasting with her 2013 vintage have really started get dialed in as the vineyard matures and I like the direction a lot with their exciting edgy quality really grabbing my attention, especially in this 2019 version, of which just under 400 cases were made, that also saw a reduction in new wood used, something I think benefits the finished product and allows for some more subtle background flavors to emerge. Theodora Lee, who has had the help of long time Roar winemaker and Santa Lucia Highlands specialist Ed Kurtzman, has created something remarkably special and their full collection of offerings, which include some small Pinots and more recently some red blended wines, as well as her unique Petite Sirah Rosé and an off dry white made from a rare grape called Symphony, a crossing of, as Theodora notes, Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris, it was, she adds, developed in 1948 (but not commercially released until 1982) by the late Harold Olmo, professor of viticulture at the University of California, Davis. This is a winery to watch and this is a wine to search out and to enjoy over the next decade, this is impressive stuff again, right up my alley, and I look forward to see how it develops.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 17, 2021

2018 I. Brand & Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Road, Fellom Ranch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of the most thrilling of the more modern throwback wines of the vintage, Ian Brand’s exceptional Monte Bello Road Cabernet Sauvignon from the Fellom Ranch is rich and complex, but styled after the historic California mountain grown wines of the 70s and 80s with deep fruit layers and firm structural tannin and brambly showing blackberry, dark currant and plum fruits that are accented by spicy sage, cigar box, sandalwood, anise and chalky stones. This is a powerful offering that is going to reward patience and it should evolve in rewarding fashion, if not slowly, though after opening up it has stunning Cabernet purity and its dark purple/garnet hue in the glass is very inviting. Brand, who is known for doing things his own way and who is a vineyard whisperer really has gotten the best out this vineyard and his other sites, most of which are organic, in recent years, making this wine that stands up to this site’s famous neighbor! Ian did as he says a light and gentle crush, de-stemming all the fruit and allowing for a native yeast fermentation and an 18 day period of maceration on the skins before lees aging this Monte Bello Cabernet for 20 months in wood, which uniquely was one new large Austrian oak Stockinger puncheon and one used French oak barrel. Only about 67 cases made made of this one, so I recommend not waiting too long to grab it. The winemaking here allows for amazing transparency and less chocolatey/toast, that you’d find in present day Napa Cabs, while providing the needed softening of the chewy Mountain fruit tannin.

This Fellom Ranch vineyard site, like its famous neighbor, sits on a unique uplift of ancient sea bed soils and is home to some of California’s most prized Cabernet Sauvignon vines with Ian’s grapes coming mostly from Beringer selection (clone) of vines planted between 1980 and1982 on a special north and east facing section of the property which allows for deep fruit concentration, but with excellent natural acidity and a firm tannic backbone. 2018s long cool season produced an amazing wine with a heady 14.6% of natural alcohol, though it feels more like much less and has loads of energy to go with age worthy power, its structural core is going to serve this wine well for a couple of decades. The Fellom Ranch was originally bought by a California State Senator, Roy Fellom, in 1929 and the first vines planted by the late Bud Fellom in the 1970s, just as the Monte Bello Vineyard, owned then by the legendary Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards was getting famous. As noted above this wine really gets going after getting some air, in fact after tasting fresh and day old bottles the Monte Bello road Cab is way better and beautifully drinking after the 24 hour mark, highlighting the potential for the future. Those that love the wines of Phillip Togni, Dunn and Cathy Corison will really be tuned on to the style of this Monte Bello Road Cab. This wine joins an every growing list of striking offering from this Salinas based central coast focused winery, that includes Brand’s once main focus Grenache offerings, his Enz Vineyard old vine Mourvedre, his new delightful Arneis, the skin contact Pinot Gris, his other Cabernet Sauvignon, from the historic Massa Estate in Carmel Valley and his set of Cabernet Francs, all of which I have praised here.
($75 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 16, 2021

2018 Domaine Duroché, Gevrey-Chambertin AC, Red Burgundy, France.
The 2018 Gevrey-Chambertin by Pierre Duroché is an exception and pure Burgundy, and even though this is just the normal AC wine it could easily be mistaken for a Premier Cru with beautiful depth and mouth filling concentration showing a sense of ripe black fruits, seductive earthiness and a dry tangy and saline quality that gets you salivating along with mineral tones and elegant floral details, impressive. There is a big pop of black cherry, red currant, wild plum and subtle leathery accents that keep your attention and the finish is wonderfully long and youthfully crisp, not overly oaked, this is an openly transparent Pinot Noir that is really performing well even now. Grown on the Cote de Nuits’ classic clay and limestone and from vines in the 20 to 50 year old range the Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin has loads of personality and a welcome rustic charm, adding sweet strawberry and brambly raspberry to its core fruits with air and a nice chalky essence that reminds all over why you love Burgundy and that these experiences are special, this is a bottle to savor with friends and a great value too. I was engrossed with this wine and kept finding new and more fine underlying facets, like bergamot, wilted rose petals, forest floor and the faintest whiff of wood, this dark garnet and ruby edged Burgundy deserves a long and relaxed meal to get everything there is to enjoy here.

Pierre Duroché, the fifth generation of Duroché vignerons, took over the domaine from his father back in 2005 and has notably raised the game here and the image of the wines at this estate are now highly coveted and sought after. I remember being first introduced to Pierre’s wines by Beaune Imports at one of their legendary portfolio tastings in San Francisco and being very captivated by them and impressed by their value, and this was not the only time these wines impressed me, so I was thrilled to get a few bottles of the latest release and they clearly did not disappoint. Duroché, as Beaune Imports notes, has wide range of top quality vineyard holdings, including some killer plots in Gevrey, as well as basic Bourgogne and village appellation parcels, as well as top Premier Cru and even several Grand Cru sites. The style that Pierre has produced at Duroché is all about graceful lines and understated power with supple tannins and elegant fruit with touch of earth, or as Beaune calls it, a briny mineral core, which they add is a hallmark of the Gevrey terroirs, which I have found to be compelling along with an inner floral perfume and haunting length. The wines are modern enough to enjoy in their youth, they a far cry away from the old school stuff, like the original Domaine Maume, with attractive pureness and opulence that allows them to drink well on release but have the serious stuffing to age perfectly well for 15 to 20 years, especially the Cru bottlings. It was great to catch up with the Duroché wines and I will, without doubt keep a more intense eye on them in the future.
($55-75 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 15, 2021

2019 Inspiration Vineyards, Merlot, Weiler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley.
The 2019 Weiler Vineyard Merlot is expressively fruit forward and juicy with a bright core of youthful red fruits, including smooth layers of raspberry, plum, red currant and vibrant kirsch along with baking spices, toffee and cedar notes in a full bodied and supple wine that should fill out and take on a darker sense with age. Jon Phillips, owner and winemaker and his production manager Dylan Sheldon have rejuvenated this label in recent years and have released a tasty collection of wines, especially good here are the Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel, along with their limited single vineyard series offerings from small vineyards throughout Sonoma County, like this one. This Merlot is sourced from the Weiler Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley, not far from Glen Ellen and Jack London State Park. The label is from original art from a local tattoo artist in Sonoma County and gives the Inspiration wines a more modern look and helps set them apart in a stylish way.

The Inspiration Vineyards lineup features wines are hand crafted small production offerings, usually well under 200 cases of each and are mainly from family farmed sustainable sites and with a couple of estate bottlings. The Weiler Merlot is one of the Inspiration Vineyards rarities that was made with carefully hand harvested and sorted grapes, which were 100% de-stemmed and naturally fermented in an open top fermenter before being raised for just over a year in French oak with a minimum of new oak to allow for this fresh style that highlights the personality of the vineyard, it reminds me of what Napa and Sonoma Merlot was like in the early 1990s. This garnet and ruby colored and ripe Merlot is easy to enjoy with luxurious soft tannin and is very food friendly, being very nice with Fall cuisine, it would be a huge crowd pleaser with the casual and maybe less adventurous wine drinkers that still appreciate quality.
($36 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive