Monthly Archives: January 2022

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 22, 2022

Latest Review

2017 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken, Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg 1896, Alte Reben, Erste Lage, Mosel Germany.
I’ve long been a follower and fan of the Carl Loewen wines, but I have say since Christopher Loewen took over they are some of my absolute favorites, with this Old Vine Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg Dry Riesling being one of the wines I try to get every vintage, as it is seriously close in quality to the GGs, but almost half the price, it is a killer bargain for what is in the bottle. The 2017, I somehow missed and just found now, is gorgeous crystalline wine that is developing nicely. The historic Weingut Carl Loewen estate dates back to 1803 when a set of vineyards and buildings that was formally owned by the Maximin order, much the same way the famous Maximin Grunhaus (Von Schubert) started after the Church’s lands were sold off to fund the secular Napoleonic government, and this sale included Loewen’s prized, ultra steep, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, one of the Mosel’s greatest vineyards, where this wine was born. The soils here are unique with a combination of Devonian era slate (red) with a band of red iron and volcanic veins running through these vineyards, which Christopher notes that this band of soil runs between Urzig and Longuich that which is very rare in the Mosel and adds to distinction of these amazing wines. This 2017 is lightly golden in the glass with delicate florals, smoky slate and the palate is vinous and rounded, but the early fat fat this vintage had has largely turned into a thrilling sex appeal with highly attractive layers of tangerine, apricot, quince and a touch of tropical fruit that is perfectly accented by wet shale, a salty note, tangy peach pit, apple skin, key lime, clove spice and a decedent leesy yeasty finish. This wine is really coming into its own and as it warms in the glass it gets more and more interesting and has a thrilling impact, it doesn’t get much better than this, instead of severity and or brutal force, there is a heightened sense of pleasure and beauty to be admired here.

Christopher Loewen, who’s brought in a new sense of passion and organic farming to the famous Weingut Carl Loewen after taking over the winemaking here new, has a set of offerings that are brilliant Rieslings, absolutely world class stuff, especially his gorgeous dry styles, including this Maximin 1896 Herrenberg Alte Reben Trocken Premier Cru (Erste Lage) that has the class, mineral intensity and elegance of a Grand Cru Chablis, but with the slate driven terroir of the Mosel. The GG’s and the 1896 Feinherb here are without question some of the best Rieslings in Germany, but when you get into the basic and Premier Cru stuff, you see some outrageously good values, like this one and the Kabinett bottlings, none of these wines should be missed. The Maximiner Herrenberg vineyard, as mentioned in my prior reviews and as well noted was originally planted in 1896, making it the oldest ungrafted Riesling vineyard in Germany and is now farmed by Loewen using organic methods. Loewen carefully sorts the grapes here as to not have botrytis in the dry wines with this parcel being in the lower slopes, set on red slate soils, closer to the Mosel river, where they benefit from reflective light from the river that adds to the full ripeness. Using modern natural methods in the cellar, Christopher, the grapes are all whole cluster pressed, and Loewen is careful not to move the pomace so to not get bitterness or harsh phenolic flavors, then the juice, according to the winery, is “browned” or oxidized pre-fermentation to stabilized the wine and get away from reduction. All of Loewen’s ferments are “Sponti” completely natural without addition of enzymes or nutrition, with these single vineyard wines, Christopher notes, are individually block picked with the above treated juice going directly into classic Fuder barrels (German oak) which average 25 years old to age. With the dry wines seeing about a year on the lees in these large oval casks to allow depth and complexity to develop before bottling, these wines are stunning in any vintage, but the string of years, 2016 through 2020 are extraordinary and should be on any Riesling lovers radar and wish list!
($48 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 21, 2022

2019 Bow & Arrow, Gamay, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This 2019 version of Bow & Arrow’s Gamay is one of my favorite vintage’s to date with tons of energy and stemmy crunch, it shows off deep black fruits, hints of violets and zesty orange rind along with racy acidity, mineral notes and is led on the medium bodied palate by blackberry, tangy sour cherry and plum fruits that are accented by hints of loam, leather and fennel. Bow & Arrow and winemaker Scott Frank go their own way, focusing on cool climate natural wines made from more humble grapes and sites, including this Gamay, and they use a different template to explore this different, simpler side of the Willamette Valley. Instead of Burgundy, Frank adds, he pays homage to the refreshing and decidedly working class wines of France’s Loire Valley and the wines show a rustic edgy quality and are incredibly value priced confiding the small batch and handcrafted effort that goes into them. Frank says, even after one of Oregon’s great contemporary Pinot Noir and Chardonnay masters, John Paul of Cameron Winery, drafted him to be his unproven assistant winemaker in 2007, the thought of bottling Loire Valley varieties, like Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon Blanc was never far away, and his interpretation of Gamay is based on his Loire experiences, in particular in areas like Touraine and Cour-Cheverny.

The Bow & Arrow Gamay is faithfully produced using old school traditional methods with carbonic whole cluster permutations and native yeasts with exceptionally low SO2, or without sulfur added in the process which includes cement vats and used very old barrels. This wine is without pretense and even carries its rawness with a certain pride, with the 2019 having a touch of funk, stemmy bite and brett, though not enough to be off putting, it just adds to the complexity and soulfulness of the whole experience. The Hughes Vineyard, Located in the South Salem hills, an area Frank feels holds some of the best untapped potential in the valley set on Jory and Nekia soils south of Salem, with Ed and Kathy Hughes farming this 27 year old site that provides Bow & Arrow with Gamay for this Willamette Valley bottling and some Pinot Noir for a single vineyard offering. These vines at an elevation of near 700 feet, the winery notes, are own rooted and have been dry farmed using sustainable methods from the beginning. The aspect here is slightly Northernly facing which translates in a light, with more cool climate natural acidity and a savory expression of the varietal, which this 2019 shows with exceptional clarity and with an earthy effect, making for old world style wines. In recent years I have grow fond of the Bow & Arrow Air Guitar, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, like seen in Anjou and the Rhinestones, a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which I think is the signature wine of the winery, both of which I highly recommend, along with this 100% Gamay.
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 20, 2022

2021 Lepe Cellars, Rosé of Sangiovese, San Antonio Valley AVA, Monterey County.
One of the first out of the gate in the 2021 vintage is a tasty Rosé of Sangiovese from Miguel Lepe at his personal label Lepe Cellars, it is a bright and mineral focused dry Rosé that bursts from the glass with racy ruby grapefruit, strawberry, sour cherry and hibiscus leading the way with hints of rosewater, saline infused stones and watermelon. This wine is going to be a hit, maybe the best version Lepe has done, it delivers vivid clarity and has the perfect delicate color with mouth-watering natural acidity, all true to Sangiovese’s nature and personality, it reminds me of some of the best Italian Rosatos, but even more vibrant and refreshingly dry. This wine has some fun times ahead, though delicious now, it will provide great companionship to those having sea food, steamed claims and mussels in spicy broth as well as basil based dishes and Ahi tartare. Miguel, who is the assistant winemaker at Wrath and formerly a winemaker at Figge, has gained a strong following for his own wines in recent years and his downtown Carmel by the Sea tasting room is a very comfortable way to explore his wines.

Miguel’s latest lineup is a very pleasing collection of finely crafted wines and he has some even more exciting stuff in the works, like a soon to be release set of Pet-Nat’s, including a Sangiovese sparkler that has been disgorged for clarity, but still has a slightly cloudy strawberry appearance, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc bubbly in a more raw natural form, and he is planning on doing a Gamay next year, so a lot of exciting stuff for Lepe. In the here and now, I really enjoyed the 100% Petit Verdot bottling with its deep color, its spicy menthol, dried flowers and red currant led full bodied palate, and this all stainless Rosé of course. Lepe did a direct press into stainless tank with about two hours of full skins to get that beautiful light pink hue and aged it for only a few months, as mentioned, 100% in stainless, before bottling in December to keep all the energy and vitality here. The grapes come out of the warmer southern section of Monterey County, in the San Antonio AVA, which was established in 2006, though it first saw a planted vineyard as far back as 1771, when the Mission San Antonio de Padua was built, making it one of the oldest growing regions in the state. It sees warm days and a climate similar to the west side of Paso Robles, benefiting from the cooling effects of nearby Lake San Antonio and the Pacific Ocean to give ripeness and balance, which this Rosé shows.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 19, 2022

2019 Jolie-Laide, Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier, Shake Ridge Vineyard, Amador County, Sierra Foothills.
The gorgeous 2019 Sierra Foothills Rhone style blend from Scott Schultz and his personal Jolie-Laide label is pure and transparent with a classic Gigondas or Vacqueyras feel and profile with a Grenache led full bodied palate of crushed mixed berries, including boysenberry, plum, pomegranate and a touch of blueberry compote, along with graphite, earth, anise, mocha, peony florals and lingering kirsch. At Jolie-Laide, most all the grapes were all crushed by foot trodding and fermented 100% whole cluster, with nothing more than gentle punch-downs throughout and indigenous yeasts, with aging be done in used French oak barrels, all to allow the great terroir, like here in this GSMV, to shine through. Shake Ridge Ranch Vineyard is an epic site and is farmed by the Ann Kraemer, a pioneering legend in the Sierra Foothills, who has been a consulting viticulturalist for Domaine Chandon, Swanson, Cain, Calera, Paul Hobbs, and Shafer, to name a few. The Shake Ridge Vineyard is set on geological wonderland of soils with schist, Mariposa slate, greenstone, and marble, plus the are big chunks of quartz that litter the ground. The Sierra Foothills has a warm climate, but here at this elevation it sees a huge day to night swing with the vines getting a nice cool rest during the dark hours, helping them retain natural acidity, which is evident here is this vintage and the natural alcohol is low, remarkably just 13.2% in such a concentrated and densely packed wine.

Jolie-Laide is Scott Schultz’s one-man operation based in a Sebastopol and while having gained a reputation for geeky cool wines in recent years, his Syrah is nothing but old school traditional and with loads of class and distinction with a clean and transparent profile. As mentioned in my prior reviews, Scott moved to Napa from Chicago in 2007 with mostly fine dinning experience in the restaurant business on his resume which led him into a position at famous chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Napa’s Yountville, where he became head of their wine program and fell in love with California wines. He worked with Arnot-Roberts and Ryme Cellars, two modern new generation wineries, before joining Pax Mahle at Windgap and Pax Wine Cellars, where his talents have helped produce some of California’s best loved Syrahs. I must say this Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and a small amount of co-fermented Viognier is really drinking fantastic right now, but is still beautifully fresh and vivid, giving me the impression that it will age another 5 to 10 years, it is easy to love, though very serious too. Earlier this year I enjoyed Schultz’s Gamay Rosé and his delicious Melon de Bourgogne white, each wine in the Jolie-Laide lineup highlights a sense of place. I was a little late getting into these wines and I am thrilled by what I’ve tried, making me happy I joined the mailing list. The Jolie-Laide wines just keep getting better and better, with the lineup expanding to include some outstanding stuff, in particular I recommend their red wine offerings, this dark colored and well balanced Shake Ridge Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre and Viognier for sure, plus his Gamay, the Jura inspired blend, the Freisa, and the Syrahs.
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 18, 2022

2019 Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Juvenile, California.
One of California’s best Zin values and a great way to start your journey into the fabulous collection of wines at Turley Cellars, the Juvenile bottling, comes from vines that range in age from about 6-25 years, and, as the winery notes, are pulled from a selection of their best vineyards across California, including the famous Hayne, Pesenti, Salvador, Vineyard 101, Fredericks, and Kirschenmann sites from Paso Robles to the Napa Valley, as well as Amador and Lodi. This 2019 is wonderfully balanced with expressive fruit and nice natural acidity, its ripe core includes crushed raspberries, black currants, plum and juicy kirsch along with hints of fresh ground pepper, deep violet and peony florals, dried herbs and dark cocoa. Full bodied and quite luxurious in mouth this vintage is full of pleasure and is easy to love, easily hiding its potent natural alcohol (15.3%) and it has velvet covered muscles with supple tannin and an elegant finish, not unlike youthful Chateauneuf du Pape reds, but proudly Californian to be sure.

The Turley Juvenile, made by Tegan Passalacqua and his team is sourced from close to 27 vineyards, mostly all organic and sustainably farmed and is traditionally fermented using fully de-stemmed Zinfandel grapes and native yeasts. Turley notes that the Juvenile is actually composed of a variety of young vines that have been replanted in several of their old vine sites. They tag the younger vines then pick them, which is done separately and make they make each a distinct wine in separate lots, and blended to taste and style later. Turley has been hand crafting this Juvenile since 1999 and the recipe hasn’t changed too much, though certainly under Passalacqua’s vineyard and cellar guidance Larry Turley’s wines have continued to rise in quality, highlighting the care and extreme effort he has put in here since taking over the winemaker duties. The dark garnet hued Juvenile Zin, following the classic single vineyard wines, saw about 12 months in 80% French and 20% American oak with 95% being used barrels and just 5% new here and the Zin was bottled unfined. These 2018 and 2019 wines are outstanding, I highly recommend grabbing what you and or joining their mailing list for upcoming releases.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 17, 2022

2019 Monte Rio Cellars, Mission, Lodi, California.
Still very fresh and lively with a range of spicy and floral aromatic, the ruby/orangey colored 2019 Mission grape red from Patrick Cappiello, the famous New York Sommelier and Pax Mahle of Pax Wines, famous for his outstanding and iconic Syrah bottlings, under the Monte Rio Cellars label is an all natural throwback winery focused on classic old California grapes and vineyards, is a lighter colored, slightly rustic and earthy wine that is as this bottle suggests a gulpable quaffer with a certain historic charm. This distinctive dry and low alcohol red shows layers of dried cherries, dusty raspberry and tangy tree picked plum fruits, a red pepper spiciness, a hint of funk and leather, along with orange rind, garden herbs, rose oil and sprigs of lavender. This is a fine effort and nice vintage to explore the Mission grape, this rare old grape, also known as Listan Prieto, that originally came to the new world with the Spanish missionaries, hence the name it goes by here in California. The grape, a very minor one in Spain, first got planted down in Chile back in the 1500s, where it is called Pais and eventually made its way north all the way to Sonoma by the late 1700s and early 1800s, it seems to have grown best in southern California, where it was made into California’s first commercial wine, as well as in the Lodi area, where it still thrives today, like here at the Somers Vineyard that supplies fruit for some of the best examples I’ve tasted. The Monte Rio Mission is best served with a slight chill, much the same as a Beaujolais and is perfectly suited to picnics, simple foods and or beach time with friends.

The 2019 vintage Monte Rio Mission, bottled in normal 750ml and in this retro jug 1.5L bottle was made from 80 year old vines at the organic Somers Vineyard in Lodi and was 100% whole cluster fermented and aged for about 6 months in neutral barrels. It saw a full carbonic maceration for 10 days in stainless steel vats before being pressed into a combination of concrete and stainless steel tanks for 7 days to get through primary, with absolutely no sulfur used in the winemaking and an all natural indigenous yeast fermentation before in was put to the very old oak. I have really enjoyed these last few vintages from Monte Rio Cellars, these no pretense offerings are fun and unique wines, with their Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and this Mission grape red being some of my favorites from these guys. I had saved this bottle, because I liked the look, and even reviewed the 2020 version before this vintage, though it was in no way inferior and was very smooth on the palate and maybe with a more exciting nose, which has a bit of cinnamon jolly rancher and rose petals to enjoy. As noted before, it is likely that the Mission grape was first planted for trade production at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1779 and it is thought in 1783, the first wine was produced in Alta California emerged from this mission’s winery, about a hundred or so years before Zinfandel arrived in the state. Never always loved as a wine in the past, Mission has made a comeback in recent years and the Mission by Monte Rio, that comes in at just 11.5% natural alcohol, is juicy and very enjoyable.
($23 Est. for 750ml) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 16, 2022

2019 Domaine Weinbach, Riesling, Vin d’Alsace, France.
The baby Riesling from Weinbach is a killer value and exceptional wine, crisply detailed, but with opulent texture and balance showing a real presence in the glass with apricot, white peach, melon, a crunch of apple and zesty lemon/tangerine citrus fruits along with spicy clove, verbena, chamomile, salty wet stones and touch of round leesy brioche. The aromatics are delicately floral with a wisp of jasmine and orange blossoms along with a mineral tone, not to be confused with petrol fumes and subtle a earthiness that is wonderfully appealing in this stylish dry Riesling, it is always a treat to have a Weinbach and this is no exception. Women and nature have always played a big part of the success at Weinbach, which continues today.In recent years, Catherine Faller took over the leadership of the winery, made famous in a large part by her late mother Collette who brought the winery to the very top of wine world and her late sister Laurence, who was the winemaker for many years before sadly passing away at the young age of 41, and has kept the estate in the elite of Alsace wineries, along with her sons Eddy and Théo, who lead the next generation at this historic domaine.

The grapes for the basic Riesling are all organic and or biodynamic, they are all hand picked from parcels in the Valley of Kaysersberg, home to Domaine Weinbach with sandy silt soils on granite pebbles that give this wine its mineral focus. The grapes growing in this terroir, which is a bit warmer and sees lots of sun ripen a lot earlier, which the winery notes, produces wines with complex aromatics and a potent concentration, though there is loads of zesty acidity, meaning there is lots of depth and fruit density in most years, which this 2019 coming in about 13.5%, making for a rich supple body, though very dry with a touch of bitter almond coming from the phenolic extract. The 2019 saw a gentle whole cluster press in a Champagne style pneumatic press, then a spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, that the Faller’s believe add an element of the terroir, enhancing the depth and complexity in the wine, in old oak vats. The basic Weinbach Riesling sees eight months on the lees in the large neutral wood barrels, which is just about perfect to mature this outstanding Alsatian white, and like all of the Weinbach offerings, this is an all vegan bottling, it goes great with a wide array of cuisine too, from cured ham to Cajun spiced shrimp or crayfish.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 15, 2022

2016 Domaine L’Austral, Saumur Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge “Vigneaux” Loire Valley, France.
The exceptionally perfumed and pure old vine Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge “Vigneaux”, which is 100% Cabernet Franc, from Domaine L’Austral was macerated in vat on the skins for about seven days and then fermented and aged in concrete eggs for 18 months, making for a wine that drinks like a fine Burgundy or Barbaresco, but with true Cab Franc varietal character. The delicacy and depth is quite stunning here, the nose draws you in with violets and rose oil, with heavenly layering on the weightless palate of black raspberry, ripe currant, plum and kirsch along with chalky stones, wild herbs and classic bell pepper notes. Unlike the tannic and animal laced old school Chinon, this Saumur is all about grace and sublime clarity, it is a stunning wine of gorgeous detail and absolute purity that feels wonderfully textural, lingering on and on with echos of the fruit and florals. The Les Vigneux, an outstanding value, is a from small single parcel in Saumur that is set on classic Silex limestone soils and is one of the most prized sites in the region and of the former Tour Grise estate, which obtained full biodynamic certification back in 1998, this wine clearly shows this fabulous vineyard at its mature best.

La Tour Grise estate, now know as Domaine L’Austral, which is only a total of 20 Hectares, was one of the first generations of biodynamic converts in the Loire Valley along with the more well known Nicolas Joly and a few others, and Philippe Gourdon originally founded this domaine in 1990 and got biodynamic certified in the following years as noted. These wines are a true reflection of the commitment and passion in Gourdon and in the new owners, Pauline Mourrain and Laurent Traubat have faithfully made these wines their own, but continue in the prior owners footsteps, under the L’Austral label. Pauline and Laurent have employed many of the same methods that the Gourdon’s used, though in recent years have taken things to the next level, so it will be well worth following this winery that use a combination of cement, with this one seeing only those concrete eggs, and used French oak to age these wines. The L’Austral wines are all naturally vinified, with long maceration(s) and indigenous yeast fermentation(s) and then aged in the estate’s historic underground troglodyte cellar that was cut from the natural limestone for which the Saumur AOC is famous for and for, which also give these Cabernet Francs and Chenin Blancs grown their striking characteristics. Domaine L’Ausral does a fabulous collection of hand crafted wines, including this awesome Vigneaux, as well as a delicious selection of Chenin(s), a cool sparkling wine and even a full carbonic Cab Franc that is wonderfully quaffable, I highly recommend them all!
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 14, 2022

2019 Corral Wine Co, Sauvignon Blanc, Zabala Vineyard, Arroyo Seco AVA, Monterey County.
Very much like the premier release 2018, the new Corral Sauvignon Blanc was fermented and aged in stainless and is just as excitingly vivid, zesty and pure, as the last one, making it a great Summer sipper and a white that goes great with lighter cuisine, especially delicate fish, goat cheeses, salads and picnic foods. The nose again is striking with gooseberry, wild herbs, white flowers and citrusy, with a touch of guava in this vintage and with a bit more density and presence on the tangy refreshing palate with loads of lemon/lime, white peach, quince and melon fruits. A bright pop from the natural acidity as well as some mineral, saline and wet stone elements make it even more compelling. It has been very interesting to see, as mentioned last time I was reviewing this wine, a Monterey County renaissance of Sauvignon Blanc, it is an amazing turn around for this grape locally, in which a flood of dull wines had made Savvy B a hard pass, it’s a trend I admit I didn’t see coming at all, especially with all the cool alternative grape varietals doing so well here, like Vermentino, Picpoul, Grenache Blanc, Melon, dry Riesling, even Arneis and especially Albariño showing incredibly here. So it is good to see some focused efforts put into the grape and having wines like this one, which is superb with soft cheeses and or grilled shrimp to quaff around with. As I noted before, local winemaker and vineyard guru Ian Brand really thinks we are just beginning to see this grape’s potential in Monterey, especially in Arroyo Seco, it just needs some TLC, in a way it (this wine) reminds of how good some South African coastal climate Sauvignon Blancs can be, like those of Neil Ellis.

The Corral Wine Co., started by Larry Bell, is a family run micro (craft) winery in Corral de Tierra, set in between Carmel Valley and the Salinas Valley, that has a few acres of Pinot Noir vines and has just released their first estate Pinot Noir, which is a beauty as well (more on this one soon) and is available at their newly opened tasting room in the Carmel Valley Village. They have also done a nice job with their Zabala sourced Chardonnay, to go with this tasty Sauvignon Blanc. This wine in the 2018 vintage, was the debut for winemaker Adrien Valenzuela, at Corral, who has been patiently waiting for his chance to show of his cellar skills outside his day job at Constellation Brands in Gonzales. A Salinas and Monterey County native Valenzuela, is one of hugely talented new generation of home grown local winemakers, who was studying biology and nursing, took an internship at Estancia and caught the wine bug. His first solo wine that he made in his garage was a hit at the Mid-State Fair, taking a Gold Medal. As mentioned before, young winemakers have a tough road to success and there are many roadblocks along the way, so it is great to see young people taking their chance and making it in this business. The lineup at Corral is well worth checking out, from this Sauvignon Blanc to their set of Pinots, as well as a deeply colored and full bodied Petite Sirah, I highly recommend trying the full collection. This 2019 Zabala Sauvignon Blanc by Corral is an interesting white, grown on an alluvial wash, ancient river bed and extremely rocky soils, with crisp dry details and mouth watering freshness, it makes for a nice change from the generic versions coming in from New Zealand and its heightened Musqué clone aromatics just adds to the wine’s personality and charm, it is nicely done and it is worth checking out.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 13, 2022

2017 Weingut Georg Breuer, Riesling, Rauentaller Nonnenberg “Monopol” Rheingau Germany.
This 2017 Rauenthaller Nonnenberg, that was sourced from Breuer’s all organic monopole vineyard site, was fermented with native yeasts and traditionally aged in old wood, is one of the winery’s top dry bottlings and one of my favorite Rheingau Rieslings, with this vintage showing a wonderfully concentrated and balanced drier palate, highlighting the ripe, almost plush nature of the vintage in the region. While I love the Breuer Rudesheimer Berg, slate driven, offerings, especially the Roseneck and the mighty Schlossberg, this Rauenthaller Nonnenberg Monopol is iconic and uniquely distinct in their lineup of dry Rieslings with its textural depth and earthy complexity, making it one of the great wines of the region. This 2017 has really come together nicely, getting much better after a few years in the bottle showing an array of citrus and orchard fruits with layers of tangerine, yellow peach, apricot, apple and tropical fruits along with dried honey, an earthy stony and mineral core, as well as having an inner energy, zesty but smooth acidity and fine floral aromatics. I am always impressed with the transparency and rustic charms in these Breuer wines and I have really loved my visits to their tasting room in downtown Rudesheim, both times, back in 2009 and more recently in 2016, when I got to taste through a great selection of their wines, including a few older vintages of this Nonnenberg. This vintage is nicely expressive, lightly spicy and deep, giving a generous mouth feel and lingering saline quality, making it great with classic pairings and with just enough residual sugar to stand up to a little heat, great with Asian cuisine and or poultry dishes.

The Weingut Georg Breuer, now run by Theresa Breuer, was one of the key members of Charta, an organization founded before the VDP started their Dry classifications, formed to promote a drier style of Rheingau wine and were proponents and leaders of this style of wine to great effect in the region. Theresa’s late father, Bernard, believed that the Rheingau was perfectly suited to producing very fine, elegant and flavorful dry Rieslings, and he has been proven right, especially in recent years and by his talented daughter. Bernard, as mentioned in my prior reviews, was also a strong advocate for a vineyard classification system based on geology, historical precedent, and the quality of wines, he also is credited with discovering the potential of the Rauenthal zone, which has become one of the top crus in the Rheingau and in particular the incredible Nonnenberg Monopole site. Theresa Breuer, the director of Weingut Georg Breuer, has taken a more natural approach to her wines and has gone holistic in her farming of her estate vines looking for physiological and aroma ripeness, which she feels are more important than must weight numbers and the grapes are only picked when Theresa and her team feel the fruit is perfect, giving the wines a sense of delicacy, earthy transparency and elegance, rather than power or overtness. This Nonnenberg Monopole, a unique geological area is a South facing site, with deep Phyllite soils with a covering of gravel deposits, always has a lovely perfume of white flowers and a parade of citrus and stone fruits that leans on the yellow spectrum of flavors, as this 2017 shows perfectly. While waiting for the Covid pandemic to subside, I’m dreaming of returning to Germany and getting back to Rhein wine growing area, with this wine transporting me back there.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive