Monthly Archives: November 2021

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 29, 2021

Latest Review

2019 Grochau Cellars, Melon de Bourgogne, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The 2019 Melon de Bourgogne by John Grochau at Grochau Cellars is wonderfully tart, crisp and low alcohol, very much like its cousins in Muscadet with a burst of quince, lemon/lime, unripe peach and apple fruits and a fresh sense of mineral, wet stones, subtle lees and citrus blossom, it is kind of like an Extra Brut Champagne minus the bubbles, in a good way and obviously a nice choice with oysters. The Melon de Bourgogne grapes for Grochau’s version comes from the Stavig Vineyard located about 15 miles away from Portland in Happy Valley, kind of off the beaten path, but proving remarkably well that it is a great spot for this varietal. The vineyard is set on an ancient riverbed with intensely rocky soils and with some volcanic overlays. The rocky composition reminds Grochau of Muscadet’s gravely soils in the western Loire Valley, not far from the cool Atlantic. Very interesting, John used two different vessels for his Melon fermentation and aging, this included two concrete eggs and three 500 liter Acacia wood puncheons. He notes that each one had its own textural imprint on the wine, which feels more and more rounded as it warms in the glass and the wine was aged Sur Lie (on the Lees) for 8 months before bottling, which as mentioned gives a hint of dough, nuttiness and brioche like a Champagne.

John Grochau founded his Grochau Cellars after retiring from a career in cycling, where he once toured vineyards in France and fell in love with wine, after which he pursued his way into wine through restaurant experiences in his native Portland, often helping out at harvest in the nearby Willamette Valley, going on to become a Pinot Noir producer of note in 2002 and still is making them today. Grochau credits Doug Tunnel as an inspiration and was mentored at Doug’s famous Brick House Vineyards and learned the benefits of sustainable viticulture with the use of biodynamic and organic farming, which he exploits in many of his vineyard sites that supply grapes for his label. Beyond the critically acclaimed Pinot Noir, Grochau hand crafts an interesting collection of alternative wines, including this Melon de Bourgogne that comes in at under 12% natural alcohol, as well as Pinot Blanc, Gamay and Tempranillo to name a few, all of which are showing promise and potential. Plus, there is even more rare stuff too, like Grochau’s Sparkling Riesling, their briny Albarino and a Burgundian like Brick House sourced Chardonnay. I’ve been a fan of what Grochau produces since I first tried his Pinots about a decade ago and I love his basic Commuter Cuvee for its purity and value, as well as his impressive single vineyard collection of Pinots, especially his Zenith Vineyard Pinot, as well as the Twelve Oaks Gamay Noir, which I highly recommend trying!
($20 Est.) 90 points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 28, 2021

2019 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
John Paul’s Cameron Winery is one of Oregon’s legendary properties, along with The Eyrie Vineyards, Beaux Freres, Ken Wright, St. Innocent and Doug Tunnel’s Brick House, which like Cameron is inspired by old school Burgundy with sustainable, organic and non irrigation farming, as is done here on Cameron’s latest Dundee Hills Pinot. The 2019 is a very pure and stylish effort with a sense of lightness in the glass, though nicely dark and it shows lots of racy red fruits with some vigorous energy in the form of natural acidity, delivering red cherry, currant, spicy vine picked berries and a touch of blood orange fruit that is accented by cedary wood, truffle, black tea, cinnamon and faint trace of graphite. The 2019 is a very fresh vintage that has allowed this wine to be, while less dense in fruit, elegant and focused with a subtle floral delicacy, it opens up with a less reductive edge than you usually find in these Cameron Pinots, making for a wine that can be enjoyed in its youth and with plenty to admire here in a satiny medium bodied effort.

For this wine, Cameron sources the Pinot Noir grapes from two sites in the Dundee Hills, two in this unique terroir with its Jory soils, set at good elevation in Oregon’s classic volcanic red hills, that gives these wines their soul and distinct characteristics with exceptional pigment, lush red fruits, exotic spiciness, minerality and a sultry earthiness, all of which shows in Cameron’s latest release. All of the wines, made by John Paul and his team, are fermented with the indigenous yeasts in open top tanks and maceration is lengthy and gentle to extract as much flavor and color as can be. Paul jokes that the fermenting juice is tended by beautiful women who immerse their nude bodies in the warm must to keep things exciting in the cellar, though I hear from ex Cameron interns and winemakers that sadly this is just a myth. The Cameron Pinots are aged for nearly two years in a mixture of French oak barrels, that Paul says, that range from new to completely neutral (used) and then bottled without filtration. This regional Dundee Hills bottling, along with Cameron’s Ribbon Ridge version are awesome values and very guilt free for the price, these two Pinots are great way to start exploring John Paul’s wines!
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 27, 2021

2015 Proprietà Sperino, Lessona DOC, Alta Langhe, Piedmonte, Italy.
Coming from one of the wine world’s hot spots, the Proprietà Sperino Lessona DOC is a gorgeous Nebbiolo based wine from the Alta Langhe, this northern Piedmonte region that is getting a lot of attention as it is rediscovered as a top growing zone in Italy in the shadow of the Alps on ancient glacial soils which gives this incredible terroir its soul, class and distinction, with this Sperino Lessona rivaling its cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco! This remote higher elevation region has a collection of Cru Villages that includes Lessona, Boca, Ghemme, Bramterra and the more famous Gattinara to name a few of top sites, these should be on the radar of Nebbiolo lovers and enthusiasts! Luca de Marchi’s, the winemaker and owner at Proprietà Sperino, signature wine is this Rosso Lessona DOC, which is a powerhouse and is made exclusively with 100% Nebbiolo that saw 32 months in wood with at least 18 months being aged on the fine lees, it is an ultra serious effort that thrills to palate. The Proprietà Sperino Lessona, from the warm and concentrated vintage of 2015, is a beauty with a pretty floral bouquet and an inviting ruby/crimson hue in the glass that almost seems too light to have so much depth on the palate with a classic Nebbiolo array of flavors including black cherry, damson plum, briar spiced raspberry and earthy mulberry fruits, along with minty herb, anise, cedary wood and a touch of dried rose petals, mineral and Moro orange rind, all wonderfully presented in this medium bodied wine. There is enough stuffing and tannic structure to provide rewarding age worthy potential for this Nebbiolo, it should go for another decade easily, while still delivering an impressive performance now, especially with robust cuisine.

The Proprietà Sperino winery is located in the Lessona DOC appellation, in the Alta Langhe part of the greater Piedmonte region, and is one of the oldest and most historic wine-growing areas in Italy with wine producing records showing, as early as the 14th century, this was a thriving wine community and now it is one of Italy’s hot spots, along with Mount Etna on Sicily, with wines like this one, made from mostly Nebbiolo, being a fine example why these wines are getting such attention. Luca de Marchi, who’s family has some Piedmonte roots has a well known father, Paolo, who owns the famous and critically acclaimed Tuscan estate Isole e Olena in Chianti Classico, runs this Lessona property with a passion for Nebbiolo. Luca de Marchi, who is a mission to bring more quality to Lessona, and has laboriously restored the family vineyards, that he inherited in 1999, and has done a masterful job and this 2015 shows it. The Proprietà Sperino is located, as they note, right at the foot of Monte Rosa, where the soil consists of marine sand and Alpine granite that are perfect for the Nebbiolo vines to thrive and produce exceptional long lived wines. The Nebbiolo grape, which is locally called Spanna here, is very aromatic and complex, and is lifted by the small amounts of Vespolina and Croatina, native varietals to the area that usually are found inter-planted with the vines here. While this wine is 100% Nebbiolo, their Uvaggio Coste della Sesia DOC, which I reviewed recently, is made from sustainable farmed grapes including Vespolina and Croatina, which are all de-stemmed and fermented in tank and used wood and then it is raised 22 months in mostly small tonneau/barriques then bottled unfined and unfiltered. As I noted in my prior review, the Proprietà Sperino winery is an exciting project and a label to follow, especially this well made and generous top bottling from Luca de Marchi.
($83 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 26, 2021

2018 Domaine Hubert Lignier, Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Aux Poirelots, Pinot Noir/Gamay, Red Burgundy, France.
On first impression this Lignier Passetoutgrain is earthy and very rustic in style with a certain meatiness and little charm, but after opening up and especially with food this wine goes from an ugly duckling to an almost a lovely swan becoming much more engaging and deeper in fruit. The Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne Passetoutgrain is made from about 60% Gamay and 40% Pinot Noir from a single Lieu-Dit called Aux Poirelots in the Morey-St.-Denis AOC and has some Gamay vines that date back to 1960, with the Pinot being more recent plantings that are from 1998. This domaine’s version of Passetoutgrain or Passe-Tout-Grains is brand new to me and it is a traditional example, though I have been lucky enough to have tasted most of the winery’s excellent collection of Burgundy offerings, including many vintages of their Grand Crus with their Clos de la Roche Grand Cru being a favorite as well as many of their awesome Premier Cru Chambolle and Morey-St.-Denis bottlings. The dark garnet and ruby hued Passetoutgrain starts with leather and iron notes before the red berry fruit takes hold on the medium bodied palate, it also gives a range of flavors that includes wild strawberry, plum and black cherry fruits along with a touch of forest floor, brambly spices, a hint of chalk and stones and dried flowers. There is a much more pleasant details that shine with food, letting the savory elements and earthiness fade into the background, making for a more harmonious experience in mouth and the natural acidity helps keeping things fresh.

The Domaine Hubert Lignier, run by father and son Hubert and Laurent, estate owns about nine hectares mainly within the villages of Morey Saint Denis, the town where they have their old cellars, Gevrey Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny, all prime and classic terroirs. In the last decade or so the Lignier’s have added to their portfolio of holdings to include parcels in Nuits Saint Georges and Pommard, their first in the Cote de Beaune. The farming here follows the principles of “lutte raisonnée” (sensible combat) in their mostly organic and sustainable viticulture. The thin, clay and limestone soil on these Cote d’Or slopes is not conducive to vigorous growth and limits the crop yields naturally, though to improve the concentration, what this Domaine is noted for, they do a severe green harvest, limiting yields further, and careful vineyard sorting to extreme levels to ensure ripe fruit density and complexity in the wines. In the cellar, the grapes are all de-stemmed and primary fermentation takes place in open-top cement tanks, that the winery notes, that allow manual pigéage and only natural yeasts are used here. Laurent, unlike his dad, now employs an extended cold soak maceration period prior to fermentation to allow greater extraction and his total maceration and gentle punch-downs lasts about 20 plus days before pressing to barrel. The wines here typically are aged for close to 18 months and the wines generally see mostly used French oak, which this Passetoutgrain seeing only neutral barriques, with the top cuvées being the exception, getting up to 50% new wood and an extended elevage as long as 24 months. I’m glad I gave this wine a chance to fully express itself, in particular with a meal, and give me its best performance, it is certainly a wine that I will buy again.
($28 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 25, 2021

2019 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Trocken “Abtei 1937” Erstes Gewächs, Bingerbrücker Abtei im Ruppertsberg, Nahe Germany.
Kruger-Rumpf’s Abtei VDP Erste Lage Riesling Trocken, sourced from an ultra steep parcel tucked into the most northwestern site in the whole Nahe region just across the river from Bingen and almost a stones throw from the mighty Rhein and set on metamorphic rock with slate infused soils, and as I have said before, this might be one of the most distinct sites in this celebrated area and this wine is the equal of many much more expensive offerings with an amazing sense of depth and energy. This 2019 is impressive with elegance and delicacy on display, but with an exotic background of tropical fruit and florals adding beautiful depth, complexity and aromatics here on this crisply and mineral toned dry Riesling, its lively medium bodied palate delivering a wonderful play between generous citrus and stone fruits and salty stoniness with white peach, lime, green apple and pineapple all revolving in the mouth along with wet flint, spearmint, verbena, clove, rosewater and a touch of leesy notes. This pale golden colored Riesling is dynamic and vibrant with a crystalline precision, this 2019 is drinking sublimely well already with seductive charm, divine weightlessness and personality bursting from the glass, making it compelling now, though it should get even better with another 3 to 5 years of bottle age, if you could be that patient, which I was not. This Abtei was a perfect way to start my Thanksgiving eve Chinese food feast providing a delicious refreshment to the array of flavors on over, while shinning all on its own, this is a serious wine that could easily be Grosses Gewachs and someday this vineyard certainly will be. Georg Rumpf has committed this small estate to organic farming and while they have been practicing organic for several years, they are now poised to full certification soon. They keep bees nearby the vineyards to facilitate pollination and aid in overall bio-diversity as well as having sheep roaming the vines helping to control underbrush growth and all of their vineyards are hand harvested to ensure that only optimally ripe grapes are selected.

The impossibly steep Kruger-Rumpf Abtei Cru, as mentioned, is the northern most vineyard in the Nahe, which is on the outskirts of Bingen, it was once an almost forgotten Abbey owned plot, across the Rhein from Rudesheimer Berg and is almost a mirror image soil wise to Schlossberg with a beautiful southern exposure. While still just a Premier Cru, this might be the best kept secret in the Nahe. The Rumpf’s have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into working this amazing site, completely rehabilitating this once poorly kept site that is set on phyllite, which is essentially mica slate, all farmed now with organic methods and only hand tending of the vines, do to the severity of the slope. Georg Rumpf, the winemaker, does a single block wine from this vineyard from vines that date back to 1937, hence the name, sourced from the vineyard’s oldest and steepest section of vines here. The Kruger-Rumpf estate, which has roots going back to the 1700s was really only founded as a winery in 1984, is located in Münster-Sarmsheim, a small village on the western side of the Nahe River and is highly regarded for their collection of Grand Cru plots and their traditional series of Rieslings, especially their hedonistic Spatlese bottlings and in recent years their collection of dry Rieslings along with their outstanding off dry Scheurebe. The dry Abtei 1937 Riesling, coming from these 81 year old vines, was fermented with native yeasts or Sponti, (spontaneous) in over 30 years old Stückfässern (German 1200L oak casks) with full lees aging, lasting a full nine months after harvest. Back in 2016, I got a chance to walk and visit this Abtei vineyard with Georg and after tasting the grapes (and wines) from here I was convinced Rumpf’s have a magical piece of land here, perfect for making exceptional single vineyard Rieslings, and this 2019 is all the proof you’d need. The Abtei, I think of, the same way I do other famous places, like Carl Loewen’s Maximin Herrenberg 1896 in the Mosel, Johannes Leitz’s Kaisersteinfels Terraces, Wittmann’s Morstein in the Rheinhessen and the Carl Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg to name just a few and it also compares well with Von Winning’s Paradeisgarten in the Pfalz. I highly recommend the Abtei bottlings, especially this one with its gorgeous label, from Kruger-Rumpf and I am excited to hear they are going to release a Spatlese version soon too.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 24, 2021

2019 Drew, Pinot Noir, Faîte De Mer Farm, Mendocino Ridge.
The deeply color dark garnet and ruby edged 2019 Faîte De Mer Farm Pinot from Jason Drew at Drew Family Cellars is a thrilling wine of energy and complexity, it absolutely exceeds my expectations from this hugely talented winemaker, one of the state’s biggest stars and this incredible vineyard location that makes for some of the most compelling examples of Pinot Noir in America with a beautiful array of radiant fruit, heightened aromatics, delicate spices, subtle earthiness and brilliant clarity. I’ve long been a fan of these Drew wines and consider them among the very best produced in California and these 2018 and 2019 efforts are some of their best yet with their extreme cool climate character, low alcohol, natural acidity and wonderful length really shinning through. The 2019 feels a touch more rounded and sublimely elegant with lovely floral tones and surprising vinous density for a lighter framed wine with layers of classic Pinot fruit, including black cherry, wild plum, tangy red currant and strawberry coming through on the medium bodied palate along with a touch of whole bunch crunch, mineral/stoniness, cinnamon, orange tea and a fait sense of wood. The Faîte De Mer Farm is crafted from a unique set of clones including Mt Eden, Calera, Swan and Pommard selections and sees partial whole cluster and native yeast fermentation, after which this Pinot sees an elevage of about 18 months in French oak with a percentage of new barrels to give that supple mouth feel, but to allow for purity and this wine’s fabulous transparency. Lingering crushed berries, rosewater and youthful brightness with a touch of stems adds a sultry edginess that leaves you wanting for nothing!

The Faîte De Mer Farm is the Drew’s family estate that is located on the far western part of the Anderson Valley on the edge of the Mendocino Ridge appellation just over three miles from the Pacific Ocean and it is the coolest in their portfolio of stunning vineyard sites. Up at 1,250 feet elevation, the Drew estate vines are, as Jason notes, often just above the fog line, but there are times when they are completely engulfed by it. The soils are formed from an ancient uplifted ocean floor, it is made up of mainly of decomposed sandstone mixed with gravelly materials that include shale, quartz and rounded river rocks from some uplifted creek beds, along with a varying percentage of clay. These soils, Drew explains, elevation and the maritime climate, along with the coastal forest that surrounds the area, are what defines this terrior and influences these Drew estate wines. Drew is now making three distinct estate Pinot Noir offerings, with the addition of this exceptional Faîte De Mer Farm bottling from this special organically farmed coastal site, which is fast becoming one of California’s signature crus. This wine is one of the best values in Drew’s stellar collection and I highly recommend getting on their mailing list, with their Fog-Eater, Morning Dew Ranch, Wendling Vineyard, Mid-Elevation Estate and this Faîte De Mer Farm Pinot being some of my favorites and are well worth your efforts to find, plus don’t over look Drew’s awesome Syrah(s) and their Chardonnay either. Fans of these dramatic Ocean influenced Pinots, like those of Littorai, Peay, Hirsch and Cobb, will be rewarded by these Drew wines. This Faîte De Mer Farm Pinot Noir was a perfect bottle to start the Thanksgiving Holiday and holiday celebration, it kept getting better and better as it opened, adding more depth and class with time in the glass, it has the potential to age exceedingly well too, bravo, what a performance.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 23, 2021

2017 Avennia, Cuvee Justine, Red Blend, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State.
The Justine Rhone Red Blend is crafted using 61% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre and 16% Syrah, making it firmly a Chateauneuf du Pape style wine with a deep saturated purple/garnet color and a full bodied palate with lush fruit density, hints of spice, soft tannins, a bit of savory earthiness and well judged wood influence with a touch of toasty sweet smoky accents. Marty Taucher is the managing partner behind Avennia, along with Chris Peterson, who was with the winemaking team at the famed DeLille Cellars, founded the winery in 2009 with a focus on terroir driven wines from top vineyard sites with classic techniques and natural winemaking a priority for their wines. The wines I’ve tasted so far have big personalities, very much in keeping with Washington’s style, they are bold and dark wines that fill the mouth with supple layering and luxurious textures. This 2017 Justine is no different and it makes a weighty impression with dark berry coulis, sweet plum, grenadine, creme de cassis leading the way along with a touch of mentioned earth, spice and mocha, making for a very pleasing wine that gets even better with hearty winter foods, it folds together with creamy and seamless opulence.

Chris Peterson, the head winemaker at Avennia, has made Avennia a winery to take notice of and has a great reputation for making quality and concentrated red that reflect the personality of the place, in this case the rolling hills of eastern Washington State’s Yakima Valley in the greater Columbia Valley AVA. The Justine, name, is inspired by one of the great heroines of recent literature, who also sprung from the imagination of the Mediterranean, as Avennia’s wine has in this case from the southern Rhone Valley with its Mediterranean influences being the guiding light for this opulent effort. The winemaking here is all about transparency with native yeast fermentation and lengthy gentle maceration(s) with the Justine seeing 16 months in just about 9% new French oak, 91% neutral French oak barrels and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The vines used here were are from selected vineyards, including the Upland Vineyard for the Grenache, Kiona Heart of the Hill for the Mourvèdre and the Oldfield Vineyard for the Syrah, which is planted Clone 383. This was the second 2017 from Avennia that I have enjoyed, and I hear the 2018s and 2019s are even more exciting, which makes my mouth water and I am going to keep checking this winery out in the years to come, I was a huge fan of DeLille Cellars back in the day and Avennia is right up there, I also should mention that these Avennia offerings are solid values too.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 22, 2021

2019 Pax Wines, Dazed & Carbonic, Syrah, Viognier & Trousseau Gris, California.
Pax’s weird and light bodied red, Dazed and Carbonic, was inspired by the classic Led Zeppelin song Dazed and Confused, which at first you’d think was named very aptly! As the winery says, this crazy quaffable red wine is a blend of co-fermented and carbonic Syrah, Viognier and uniquely Trousseau Gris, a rare grey/pinkish grape, once called Grey Riesling here in California, all which saw 100% Whole Cluster and spontaneous natural fermentation in a stainless steel tank. After which Pax then gently pressed of the skins and stems before a five month élevage or resting period in neutral French oak 500L puncheons before bottling. The 2019 Dazed and Carbonic is bright and fresh, but also juicy ripe with a tart and tangy finish, making it best served chilled, with macerated cherry, golden raisins, red peach, blood orange and cranberry/apple fruits along with succulent florals, cinnamon spice and a hint of amaro herbal elements with plenty of zesty acidity to finish crisply. There’s just enough sweetness of fruit to make this a wine that will go very nicely with Thanksgiving meals and will hold up well to all the side fixings along with the roast bird.

The wine world is better for all the choices we have and wines such as this Pax Dazed and Carbonic that pushes the envelope of our pre-conceptions of what wine can be, plus it is fun and has no pretense. Pax notes that in the final breakdown of the varietals here, there was just 35% Syrah total, 35% Viognier and pretty close to 30% Trousseau Gris in this Dazed and Carbonic, but the skin contact and maceration provides this uniquely crafted wine its bright ruby/garnet color, just slightly darker than your average Rosé. The finished Dazed and Carbonic comes in at 12.5% Abv, making it on the lighter side and moderate in alcohol, but still vinous on the palate, which you can feel when it starts to warm in the glass, though most people will enjoy best cool and crisp, maybe at the beach or by the fire. Pax does a quality set of natural quaffers, including this one as well as rarities like Trousseau Noir, Gamay, Freisa, Charbono and Mondeuse, all of which offer a delightful experience and are well worth searching out and gives Pax’s wine club an extra degree of enticement to go along with their world class collection of Syrah offerings. There are exciting times ahead for Pax with a special new Syrah vineyard that will likely become an iconic and signature site for this exceptional California winery!
($28 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 21, 2021

2018 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Grauburgunder Trocken, Haart, VDP Ortswein, Pfalz Germany.
The crisp and steely Mueller-Catoir Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) is very much like its Alsatian cousins, reminding me of the outstanding offerings from Marcel Deiss, Trimbach and Zind-Humbrecht with a hint of petrol, green apple, quince and racy citrus leading the way here in the 2018 vintage from the famous Heart vineyard in the Pfalz. Germany is not a one trick pony, there is many grapes thriving here now besides Riesling and the level of quality for these other whites has risen considerably in recent times, especially varietals like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner (Silvaner), Muscat, Scheurebe, of which Mueller-Catoir does fantastically well, along with now Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, both of which are showing huge potential here in the Pfalz. This wine is, as the Winery notes, all vegan and comes from hand-picked and organically cultivated grapes in the Haart Vineyard that has an underpinning of sandstone soils. The briskly focused Mueller-Catoir Grauburgunder saw a cool fermentation in stainless steel and was partially matured in old wooden barrels to enhance textural quality which shows as this wine opens up in the glass, adding a nice fuller dimension. With air this Pinot Gris gains hints of mineral, zesty apricot, ground seashells, plus a touch of earth, clove and a woodsy elegant, making for a serious version of this grape and one that goes great with a variety of dishes, like soft cheeses, briny sea food and poultry.

The Mueller-Catoir Rieslings are some of Germany’s best, but they also have some intriguing alternative whites that deserve attention, like their awesome Scheurebe Torocken, this Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) as well as a great dry Muscat (Muskateller), which is a favorite of mine, and maybe the best I’ve ever had, along with Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Rieslaner (a rare varietal, that in spite of the name is not in fact related to Riesling!), and of which they do a fabulous sweet wine version. Weingut Mueller-Catoir has been family owned since 1774 with 9 generations tending the vines, as Theise notes, the winery is now run by Philipp David Catoir, who has Martin Franzen as his cellar master, hailing from the Mosel and formerly at Schlossgut Diel, took over the winemaking from the legendary Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2002. Müller-Catoir has gone holistic in recent years and farm mostly organic, but remain very practical with absolute quality demanded of the grapes here, there is no compromise at this place, they focus on purity and terroir. The vineyards in Haardt, where this wine comes from, are composed of primary rock (urgestein) and sandstone, with an increasing proportion of gravel lower on the slopes. This estate and the region has a long history of winegrowing with the Burgergarten site being first planted close to 700 years ago, and, as the winery notes. Mueller-Catoir which has a tradition of reductive winemaking implementing a gentle crush, a long skin contact, slow gentle pressing, and then ferments at warmer fermentation temperatures in stainless steel to promote transparency along with classic used oak casks that allows for a round mouth feel. Mueller-Catoir is one of the best winery’s in Germany and their wines are outstanding, I highly recommend exploring their whole range, this wine included.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2021

2017 Vietti, Barolo DOCG, Castiglione, Piedmonte, Italy.
While all the talk is about the top cru 2016s, the 2017 Vietti Castiglione Barolo has quietly snuck on the scene and it is a lovely and expressive wine that can be enjoyed in its youth with a smooth tannic structure and ripe and lush fruit. The vintage was very warm and the yields were down, so there is a silky form here, but this is still a classically proportioned Barolo with a serious backbone underneath the luxurious fruit. The palate is full and dense with pure Nebbiolo charm showing macerated cherry, briery raspberry, plum and earthy mulberry fruits along with a touch of tar, black licorice, cedar, rose petal florals, crushed chalk rock, minty herbs and a lingering sweetness of the red fruits. There is plenty of value here in this 2017 and it performs exceptionally when food is involved, I was impressed with this vintage more than I initially thought, it opened up fabulously well and went superb with grilled steak and also a mix of hard cheeses, it is a very composed effort by the talented team at Vietti, led by Luca Currado. The grapes for the Barolo DOCG Castiglione are sourced from some serious lieu-dit vineyards in the Barolo region with a selection of vines between 10 and 43 years old and set on the famous clay and limestone soils. The Vietti parcels are farmed for quality with an average density of 4,500 vines per hectare that reduces the yields to maximize concentration. For this bottling, all the different single vineyard blocks are vinified and aged separately with slightly different processes, as the winery says, to highlight the typical characteristics of each “terroir”. The Vietti Barolo was aged for about 30 months in a mix of large oak casks and smaller barriques before all of the selections are finally chosen to be blended together.

The Vietti winery, as noted recently, is located in Castiglione Falletto of famous Barolo area of the Cuneo province, and it was founded in the late 1800’s by Carlo Vietti. The estate has gradually grown over the years to include some of the most highly-prized terroirs in Piedmonte. While influential in the local area and have been making wine for four generations, this label only came of age in the 1960’s when Luciana Vietti married winemaker and art connoisseur Alfredo Currado, who was one of the first to bottle a Rocche di Castiglione cru Barolo back in 1961, as well as to produce a single-varietal Arneis in 1967, along with the introduction of an Artist Label in the early 1970s. These wines and packaging made him a legend and his efforts were of some of the most significant innovations of the era. His legacy lives on here, and Luca Currado, who has contributed even more to the success of Vietti in recent years making it an iconic label of quality, his set of Barolo wines are some of the most collectable and desirable wines in the world, especially his Lazzarito and Rocche di Castiglione Barolo(s), but you find quality throughout his collection, with this also being a standout. In 2016 the historic winery was acquired by Krause Holdings, which has given Luca and his Elena a free hand to run Vietti brand, and to add a number of prized crus to the estate’s holdings, so the future here is secure and allows them the resources to reach new levels of greatness. This 2017 highlights the craftsmanship and care Luca Currado puts into these wines, it delivers clarity, complexity and elegance in the glass, it is an impeccable Nebbiolo that is already drinking well and it has the potential to maybe give a bit more with another couple of years in bottle, even though it offers immediate pleasure that is pretty much guilt free for the quality on offer, it is a nice alternative to Burgundies in the price range.
($60 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive