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2016 Weingut A. J. Adam, Riesling Feinherb, Im Pfarrgarten, Mosel Germany.
Andreas Adam (having worked at Heymann-Löwenstein, after studying at Geisenheim) is a rising star in the middle Mosel not far from Piesport and with cru plots in Dhron, he and his sisters Barbara and Elisabeth form a youthful team crafting beautiful natural style wines using native fermentations and without additions of any kind, their latest set of 2016 continue their hot streak with delicate and finessed dry style Rieslings, though their Kabinett and Spatlese are pure joys too. Beyond the majesty Dhron and Goldtropfchen Trockens which are GG class wines, I love the value packed slightly off dry Feinherb Im Pfarrgarten, which is a absolute beauty with wonderful racy acidity and subtle generous mouth feel and classic terroir driven layers highlighting the slate soils character with flinty spice, mixed citrus and stone fruit. Perfectly balanced, the A.J. Adam Riesling Feinherb Im Pfarrgarten (the garden of the rectory) is grown on a flat parcel within the Grand Cru Dhron Hofberg of 50 years old vines that dig into blue slate (Devonian) with some clay and quartzite, it was fermented and raised in stainless showcasing it’s fresh zesty quality, it’s wonderfully easy to drink with about 10% alcohol making it a superb summer quaffer. Brilliantly light and ultra pale golden/green hued with a bouquet of lime flowers, mineral and citron/verbena lead to a brisk palate of lime, peach, passionfruit, green apple and tangy grapefruit along with wet shale, loam and minty herbs while the hint of sweetness gives texture and tropical essences rather than anything approaching cloying. This lovely Riesling finishes more crisp and snappy than you’d imagine, mouth watering and almost dusty, it lingers with a trace of rose petal, apricot and lemongrass. These 2016’s dance on the palate, they are expressive and riveting, this is a winery to follow!
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

n.v. Weingut Brundlmayer, Sekt Brut Rose, Langenlois, Austria.
Vincent Brundlmayer’s Brut Rose, a methode champenoise grower fizz, is one of the great dry sparkling wines of the world with wonderful depth and class, and this latest disgorgment is one of the best yet and gorgeous in detail and a thrill in the glass/flute! The Weingut Brundlmayer Sekt Brut Rose is a Blanc de Noirs with a bit of color crafted of mostly Pinot Noir, but with Zweigelt and St. Laurent, local varietals included in the base wine from mainly the 2013 and 2012 vintages with extended lees/yeast in the bottles. This Rose bubbly has a delicate salmon hue and a racy, but fine luxurious mousse that gives a heavenly mouth feel and vibrancy on the palate with wonderful structure and length showcasing a bright, brisk array of citrus, rosewater, tart cherry, strawberry, saline and apple skin. This lacy and intriguing Brut Rose also fills out with brioche, mineral notes, wet/chalky stones and lingers with creamy kirsch, yeasty tones and light berry essences all in harmony, grace and complexity. This is a real Champagne rival and while not cheap, it delivers plenty of quality and well worth it’s price, great for special occasions and fantastic with cuisine, bubbly fans will not want to miss this one, as well as the racy Extra Brut by Brundlmayer, both stellar bottles. I also tasted Vincent’s new 2016 Gruner Veltliners and dry Rieslings at Skurnik’s Portfolio SF Tasting and found them wonderfully exciting young wines with lots to love and admire, in fact everything I’ve tasted from Brundlmayer has impressed and been absolutely excellent!
($48 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

2016 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Feinherb “Ur” Alte Reben, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Mosel Germany.
One of the best in Selbach’s gorgeous set of fresh 2016 wines is the lovely and deeply blue Devonian slate influenced old vine Riesling Feinherb “Ur” Alte Reben that is bursting with intensity and open/transparent Mosel charm. Picked at Spatlese must weight and fermented nearly dry this white has real presence and lushness in the glass and on the palate, but with serious mineralite from the iron rich slate soil to balance the off dry sweetness which feels less sugary and more creamy. This wine is youthfully vibrant and forceful coming from a steep slope above the Mosel and from ungrafted vines that average over 80 years old with some well over 100 years hence the name “Ur” Alte Reben (extremely old) which deliver the depth and complexity found in this wonderful Riesling. Johannes Selbach employed native or “sponti” yeast fermentation and raised this beauty in cask, and allowed some sweetness to remain to soften the vital acidity and give wonderful mouth feel, and even in a barrel sample this wine demands your full attention, this is going to be spectacular stuff on release and for dozens of years to come. Brisk and cooly crisp to start this Feinherb extremely old vine Riesling, it is an opulent wine, but with Chablis like verve, starts with saline infused white flowers, green apple, tangerine, melon/lime sorbet, mango and fleshy peach along with hints of brine, liquid mineral, flinty spice and wet river stones. There’s a seductive brilliant tangy edginess that rages against the lavish pleasing sweet textures with ripe just tree picked apricot and stone/pit vying with tart citrus rind, I can’t wait to see what happens in a decade, this looks to be the stuff of legends! Without question Selbach-Oster made world class Spatlese and Auslese in 2016 with focused hedonism and class, but if you want a drier style this one will more than satisfy that itch with the added benefit of really being fun to drink anytime, this is one of the sleepers of the vintage, don’t miss this one.
($33 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

2014 Weingut von Winning, Sauvignon Blanc “500” Pfalz Germany.
This wine asks serious questions, it grabs your attention and blows your mind, it just might be the greatest Sauvignon Blanc on earth… Yes, the impressive von Winning Pfalz Sauvignon Blanc “500” is that good. I did some soul searching, because I was asking myself while tasting this wine, is this a 100 Point wine? It’s damn close, and I thought further about what is a perfect Sauvignon Blanc, it was a difficult inner conversation to answer, but in the end I am convinced this wine has that potential and it should be on your radar! It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned or talked about the intense and expressive von Winning’s Sauvignon Blanc, even though I’m not a huge fan of this grape, except for small list of awesome versions like Terlano’s Quarz, Shared Notes by Bibiana Gonzalez Rave and Jeff Pisoni, Gerard Boulay and of course vintage Dagueneau, which all are glorious. Also von Winning’s 500 (named 500 after the size of oak cask used to aged this wine) asks about the role of wood, as it certainly carries it’s influence in the wine’s profile, in the end I found it adds to the character and depth here without taking anything away, regardless of your feelings about oak, in this wine it proves a necessary evil and makes the whole wine better, no question. The 2014 von Winning 500 Sauvignon Blanc is wondrous and majestic in the glass, I come to von Winning for their fantastic dry Riesling, especially their Crus, especially their Grosses Gewachs, but I’m continuously fascinated by this wine, it has incredible presence on the palate with gorgeous leesy richness, it shows a complex array of citrus, stone fruit and gooseberry as well as chalky wet stones, sweet brioche, fine spice and mineral tones, it’s highlighted with tropical notes and subtle orange blossoms with a core of lemon/lime, kumquat, white peach and a touch of creme brûlée in a dry, vinous and vigorous wine. This Sauvignon Blanc is a masterpiece of detail, graceful power and stunning layering, while in the end I could bring myself to put 100 Points down at this time, but that might be terribly unjust, I am very open to re-reviewing that decision in the future! This wine was farmed organic on the sandstone soils of the Pfalz, from vines around Deidesheim and fermented and raised in hogsheads (500L barrels) with hand crafted care on it’s lees, it’s aged an addition year, which explains the texture and depth of mouth feel, while staying full of energy and focused, this is a remarkable and charming wine, and as mentioned, look for it to age well, 10 to 20 years I think, it might be the world’s most desirable and sexy Sauvignon Blanc being made, put it on your bucket list!
($78 Est.) 98 Points, grapelive

2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Listan Prieto, Benje Tinto, Vinos Atlanticos, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
Envinate’s Benje Tinto from the Santiago del Teide region of Tenerife on the volcanic soils of the Canary Islands is a lovely medium weight red, made with 98% Listan Prieto, one of the old mission grapes, and 2% Tintilla with a vine age of 70 to 120 years. These old vines are farmed all organic at almost 2,800 feet up on these volcanic slopes giving an almost cool or temperate climate feel and low alcohol 12.5% in this vintage with the Envinate crew, Laura Ramos, Jose Martínez, Roberto Santana and Alfonso Torrente using natural and traditional wine practices, with no added SO2. Each parcel is vinified in separate lots, some in concrete vats and some in open top bins with a 10-30 day maceration and aged in neutral barriques for 8 months. This 2015 is very expressive with a tiny amount of natty funk and pretty delicate red fruits, vibrant spices and dried flowers all wrapped in a slatey/iron rich mineralness plus salted licorice. This is a wonderful earthy/savory wine with lots to be excited about and it has a terroir purity and silken tannins that starts with a light ruby hue, rosewater, wild plum, raspberry, flinty notes, briny elements, red peppercorns and sage/fennel that makes for a serious food wine that has a racy streak, but feels wonderfully graceful and focused. Imported by Jose Pastor Selections, the Envinate wines are some of the most interesting wines from Spain, highlighting unique areas of Spain and native varietals including the Canary Islands, a Spanish islands group off the coast of western Africa, as well as Galicia, Alicante and Extremadura. I love these wines, and this one offers verve and insight for a more than reasonable price, don’t miss these authentic and well crafted old world wines!
($23 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

2013 Bodegas y Vinedos Akilia, Mencia, Villa de San Lorenzo, Ponferrada León (Bierzo) Spain.
This wonderfully textured and earthy Akilia Villa de San Lorenzo is a delicate and pretty Mencia based red from plots in the Bierzo zone is from vines that are between 75-112 years old grown on mixed soils that include slate, quartzite, sandy and clay loams, fermented in a combination of cement and neutral French cask with native yeasts. With hints of spice, meat and iron this ripe, but savory Akilia is a pure expression of grape and place, in a fun and stylish terroir driven, medium weight, low alcohol (12.5%) and fresh wine. The 2013 Villa de San Lorenzo starts with subtle fruit and floral, which is not as striking as Mencia can be, especially from the Ribeira Sacra, but still beautifully elegant and impressive with a mix of blue and red berry fruits and peppery spices on the smooth palate with wild plum, blueberry, cranberry and black cherry as well as leather, sous bois, anise, bell pepper and stony/flinty elements. Mencia is a grape that makes for a complex wine that has markers that remind you of Northern Rhone and Loire in many ways, it also falls somewhere between Pinot Noir and Syrah in weight and acidity, it’s a sexy cool climate varietal that is really fast becoming a star on the world stage! Marisol and Mario Rovira Roldan’s Akilia is a winery to follow and look for, these hand crafted wines are certainly a great value and offer distinct quality, with this 2013 drinking very lovely right now!
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2015 Halcon Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Tierra, Yorkville Highlands.
Wow, wow, wow, what a fantastic Petite Sirah, this is a wine that can totally re-define a grape, Halcon Vineyards 2015 Tierra Petite Sirah from the Theopolis Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands is a spectacular and expressive red with intense flavors and spiciness. Paul Gordon’s Halcon Vineyards, along with winemaker Scott Shapley (Roar) are making some of California’s most exciting cool climate wines, with daily average temps that come in around the same as or slightly cooler than France’s Cote-Rotie, focusing mostly on Rhone style wines, but also a set of Pinot Noir(s) and this Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah (Durif) has long been a mystery varietal, it was a happy accident in the southwest of France, it somehow came to California and was once thought to be a clone Syrah and took on the name Petite Sirah, and even that might have been a mistake too, but as a California grape it has found a new lease of life as both a blending grape and as a single varietal wine, it was created by pollen germinating of Peloursin Noir (Petite Sirah’s parent plant) by some near by Syrah vines at Francois Durif’s nursery, hence the name. For the best and most complete research into Petite Sirah/Durif in California please read Patrick Comisky’s “American Rhone” book, a great read and reference. In recent years Petite Sirah has seen some unique forms emerge with an array of stylistic wines showing up, look for Jaffurs Thompson Vineyard, Ridge’s York Creek and Lytton versions, Relic, Biale, Turley, Ian Brand’s stoney P’Tit Paysan and especially this Halcon Tierra. Halcon’s 2015 Tierra comes from 100% Petite Sirah grown on steep terraces, it was done in natural and pure Rhone style with 50% whole cluster and aged in neural French puncheons, unfined and unfiltered with only about 150 cases made, making it a deep colored and complex wine with fine acidity and gripping tannins with a medium full body very much in the style of an old school Cornas! It starts with a vibrant black/purple and garnet edged hue in the glass and a bouquet of marionberry, red pepper, shaved cinnamon, crushed violets and lavender oil which leads to a vigorous spicy palate of black plum, blueberry, racy currant along with the mentioned marionberry, peppery notes, red chili flakes, bitter coco, cedar, sage/garrigue/fennel and liquid mineral. While similar to Northern Rhone offerings, this Petite Sirah has it’s own character, lingering with black and blue fruits, floral tones and chalky stoniness. This is special stuff, nervy and detailed, but with ripe/sweet tannins and wonderful mouth feel, it’s concentrated per the vintage, though balanced without heaviness, at 14.5% this Halcon Tierra is in totally harmony and extremely well focused. I want more, and if you love Petite Sirah and or Rhone wines you’ll freak for this one and I highly recommend getting on Halcon’s list asap! Be sure to get a few bottles of this wine, it is stunning now, but I am excited to see how it will age, I think it will be a thrill with another 3 to 5 years of cellar time and it might last 15 to 20 years!
($30 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

2016 Chesebro, Grenache Rose, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
The mineral laced and leesy Grenache Rose from Mark Chesebro is a refreshing pink with bright citrus, watermelon, sour cherry, lavender and salty stones making for a stylish and food friendly wine. The delicate salmon/pink hue hints at the crisp and cool vitality, this new vintage has a dry French feel, it’s very much like fine Cotes de Provence with more austere class, subtle tones and wet rock rather than overt fruitiness. Chesebro makes mostly Rhone influenced wines with Grenache being one of his main varietals, both Noir and Blanc, as well as doing some Vermentino, Roussanne, plus a few red Cotes du Rhone style blends. With air this Grenache Rose fills out to be a medium bodied with a touch of roundness and depth, but with vibrant acidity that gives brisk energy. Chesebro’s latest set of Arroyo Seco offerings are wonderfully textured and detailed wines, especially thrilling is their Grenache Blanc and this late release Rose made from 100% Grenache. The value factor is something also to consider for the quality in the bottle, these are hand crafted estate wines that all come at very fair prices, so if you’ve not tasted Chesebro this would be a great time to check them out. The Chesebro Grenache Rose is one of the summer wines I always look forward to, and this 2016 vintage is one of the best to date, it’s now available at their Carmel Valley tasting room and should be out wholesale and online very soon.
($17 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2015 Georg Breuer, Spatburgunder “GB Rouge” Rheingau, Germany.
Theresa Breuer’s delightful and easy to drink Pinot Noir is a fresh and lighter style Spatburgunder which rises above the average, but is still uncomplicated and straight forward with pure cherry, strawberry and spicy red berry fruited wine with earthy tones and delicate mineralite. This light to medium weighted GB Rouge is a joy in the glass, especially this riper 2015 version, and while not as complex and structured as Becker or Meyer-Nakel, there is a lot to admire here, in particular the price, as the quality and style do impress here. Breuer has converted to almost all organic and biodynamic and the wines, especially the Rieslings, show a natural character, energy and earthy charm and while they’ve crafted brilliant wines for generations, this latest set from Theresa and her cellar master Markus Lunden look set to raise the bar for this small Rudesheim estate. Having visited Georg Breuer and walking the Rudesheimer Berg Crus twice since 2009, it was great to finally meet up with Therese Breuer in person this Spring in San Francisco at the Skurnik portfolio tasting and hear her thoughts on her wines and vintages, I love her down to earth and easy personality and her 2015 Crus are stunning wines, dry and powerful Rieslings that will certainly be legendary classics. The 2015 GB Rouge Pinot Noir starts with rose petal, a hint of leather and kirsch along with brambly raspberry, wild plum and touches of loam, flinty/stones, peppery notes and sweet herbs, it’s vibrant and a wonderful food wine that gains a silky texture in the mouth and with air and lingers with slate/shale, cranberry and lavender. Not a VDP member, Breuer’s (Grand) Crus don’t say Grosses Gewachs, but certainly they are in everything but name, be sure to look for her amazing and concentrated 2015 Rauenthal Nonnenberg (Monopole) Trocken, the Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg and the Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Rieslings. For tasty values also search out Breuer’s Estate and GB offerings which include a nice Rose, some really good dry style Rieslings and this fun Pinot Noir to drink now.
($27 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2014 Suertes del Marques, 7 Fuentes Tinto, Vino de Villa, Valle de la Orotava, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
One of my favorite wines, this volcanic terroir red delivers a vibrant delicacy with a hint of reductive funk, salty stones and intense black licorice to go along with pretty red berry, dried flowers and light mineral tones. Jonatan Garcia Lima’s Sureties del Marques, imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars (Southern Wine and Spirits side) these days, has brought the Canary Islands clearly into view of the wine world’s critics with most all of his wines scoring over 90 Points! The 7 Fuentes is their “village” wine, named after the seven main parcels of the Valle de la Orotava (wine region) on Tenerife, it’s a blend of mostly old vine Listan Negro along with tiny amounts of Tintilla (also known as Graciano, Bastardo or Trousseau) with some whole cluster, native yeast fermentation, in small stainless and with about 60% raised in cement and 40% in neutral French demi-muids of 500L. Jonatan Garcia has Luis Seabra making the wines these days at Sureties del Marques taking over from the talented Roberto Santana of Envinate (who made this vintage), who also single handedly brought Listan Negro (one of the original Mission grapes) to fame, making wines that compare well with the great Nerello Mascalese wines of Mount Etna in the elite group of volcanic terroir beauties. The Listan Negro is grown on the clay and basalt in low climbing vines, with Suretes del Marques using organic practices, on the slopes of Mont Teide, Tenerife’s active volcano and Spain’s highest peak at 12,000 feet! The Atlantic and volcanic influences play a huge part in the flavors here with a flinty/briny racy character with this wonderfully graceful 2014 7 Fuentes, it shows a hint of Nuits-St-Georges like class, with cherry and rose petal tones, as well as bramble, leather, candied orange rind tanginess and a touch of red pepper, lingering with strawberry, lavender, shale and cranberry. It’s light ruby hue with a touch of amber shows the care of Santana and his gentle touch with this Listan Negro based cuvee, this is so cool and such a great value it’s hard to resist, it offers style and elegance along with a huge thrill of it’s pure terroir expression! If you are desperate to understand this wine, think Crozes-Hermitage meets Mount Etna, but in a lighter more saline (dry) crisp wine, drink up!
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2011 Raul Perez, Prieto Picudo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Y Leon, Spain.
The rare Prieto Picudo is an odd varietal with high acid, high tannin and slightly oval shaped with a pointy tip, it’s native and almost only found here in Tierra de Leon, the name means beaked, hence the name, Raul Perez’s is from a high elevation old vine site on sandy clay soils with river rocks, making for a unique wine that has an almost Nebbiolo or Ramisco like flavor profile. This extraordinary red, from vines planted in 1900 in the village of Pajares de los Oteros at about 900 feet above sea level, was fermented whole cluster in chestnut wood vats with a cool 60 day maceration and then raised for about 60 months in French barriques, this long elevage adding to the wine’s refinement and mature character. The 2011 Prieto Picudo, from 111 year old vines when harvested, is a brilliant ruby/dark red color with herb and floral notes on the nose with mineral tones as well as a slight earthy/spice and kirsch note before opening to a medium full palate of racy red fruits including brambly forest berry, cherry, plum and mulberry plus dried flowers, peppercorns, grilled fennel and light cedar. The texture is fantastic and mouth filling with satiny feel, this is mind-blowing stuff with great depth and layers of pleasure, but with firm tannins and glowing vibrancy making this wine really pop, lingering distilled strawberry, salty stones, sweet tobacco leaf and baking spice. This is one of the coolest wines I’ve tried this year, again it reminds me somewhat of Lessona DOC, Nebbiolo based reds that spend 4 to 5 years in cask, of the upper Piedmonte area. The fruit is ripe and polished, this is very much a classic Perez wine, it was great to taste it with the winemaker himself, you could see just how thrilled he was with this Prieto Picudo and his passion was thick in the air, and I think this wine has potential to age another decade, I hope to get a chance to see how it evolves. Wow.
($56 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

2014 Alexana, Chardonnay, Terroir Series, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This pretty and ripe Oregon Chardonnay by Dr. Revana’s Alexana winery/label in the Willamette Valley shows classic apple/pear and lemony fruits, light hazelnut, mineral tones and subtle wood, offering texture and value for the money. This 2014 showcases the wonderful year for full round flavors and vibrancy of acidity, putting this white wine somewhere between California and Burgundy in style will forward fruit, but with graceful elegance and inner energy, it’s medium body giving nice mouth feel and it’s contrasting stoniness and saline elements balance out the fruity character. The Alexana Chardonnay Terroir Series starts with white flowers, wet river rocks, light citrusy brightness and an extremely delicate pale golden hue in the glass before filling out on the palate with the mentioned apple, bosc pear, lemon curd, golden fig and white peach fruits that seamlessly flow in satiny layers along with a hint of French oak, chalk dust and spicy shale. This wine cuts a detailed line, without heavy weight, while being a Chardonnay of substance that should perform well over the next 2 or 3 years, though there is no reason to wait to enjoy this wine. Not a complicated or an overly complex wine, but it has style and drinks above it’s price class!
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2011 J. Rochioli, Pinot Noir, West Block, Russian River Valley.
Picked out of the cellar on a whim to share with my brother and nephew, the 2011 Rochioli West Block proved majestic and perfectly performed with deep fruit and cool vintage class, while seriously lavish and rich, it shows brilliant detail, acidity and wonderful persistence, I was gratefully surprised at the level of purity and grace. I’ve always been a fan of West Block first planted in 1969 and with a parcel recently re-planted in 2008, with it’s heritage selection of clones, it always delivers a dark ruby/garnet hue with a hint of brick and a medium/full palate with ripe black cherry, fresh picked plum, cola bean, wild berry, apple skin, baking spices and a touch of earth with this 2011 adding a bit of cranberry and violet/rose petal tones. I was thrilled from the first sip to the last, it stayed remarkably focused and structured from the moment the cork was popped to that last drop that came out of the bottle, most people avoid 2011, but this wine is everything you’d want or expect from Rochioli, impressive, it goes beyond expectations and excels in this vintage, I really hope I have another one tucked away! This 2011 West Block has plenty of life to go, I might suggest another 3 to 5 years be added to the window here, best from 2018 to 2024, I imagine this will be showing up on Winebid, and with the lack of love for this year being what it is, this might be undervalued, it is a dark horse or sleeper, it will be a rewarding capture.
($80-110 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

2012 Morlet Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Coteaux Nobles, Sonoma Coast.
Luc Morlet’s fine and elegant Coteaux Nobles Pinot Noir 2012 is showing signs of quick maturity that might mean you’ll want to start drink it up, but certainly it is a quality effort that gives a gorgeous textured palate and long finish. The ex Peter Michael star Morlet is best known for his wonderful Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon based wines from estate vines in Knights Valley as well as Beckstoffer and selected coastal cool climate sites, along with a white Bordeaux blend that is truly spectacular, but he also does a lovely set of Pinot Noir, like this one. The opulent and richly flavored 2012 may not be a great choice for longtime cellaring, just my experience and opinion, but it is drinking with aplomb right now showing pretty floral tones, ripe red fruits, spice and fully integrated French barrique as well as subtle leafy earth and mineral notes. This soft and round Pinot coats the palate in silky creaminess with layers of kirsch/cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit, a light dusting of shaved vanilla, cinnamon and dried violets. With air it just gets more satiny and it’s medium bodied more refined and lingering with hints of plum, fig and anise, and while decedent and luxurious it does turn a touch stewed or poached, which is a bit worrisome for those that were thinking of holding this more than another 2 to 3 years. There’s a lot to admire now and it gives rich detail and mouth feel, it also excels with cuisine where it partners well with even more vibrant and robust food choices, including blackened salmon or beef dishes, drink now, best to pop these corks sooner versus later.
($90 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

2012  von Hovel, Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Saar Germany.
Since taking over this historic estate in 2010 Max von Kunow has taken von Hovel into a new era with organic farming and a tweaking of the lineup and winemaking with the fruits of those efforts taking form in the 2012 wines, though really taking it to the next level with the monumental 2015 vintage. Though always a winery to follow, it’s recent years look like some of best, I can see a huge difference even with these 2012 offerings, and in particular this brisk and savory toned Kabinett Trocken that saw some skin contact and more gentle fermentation. With it’s greenish light golden hue this Riesling shows plenty of vigor and extract, making it seem almost powerful in intent, certainly it has the class and complexity to be on level with an Erste Lage, or Premier Cru, it’s forceful presence in the glass does make you notice it and it’s an exceptional value if you can find it. That said the 2015 and 2016 should prove even better and the future here looks amazing, highlighting the Saar’s soulful and even earthy elements rather than the vivid slate influences of the middle Mosel not far away, providing a wonderful contrast in terroir characteristics. This 2012 von Hovel Kabinett Trocken estate Riesling (black label) starts with a vibrant array of citrus, spices, white flowers, earthy stones and a zesty steely core leaning on lime, verbena, tart melon and subtle mango. This 2012 is still sizzling with crisp acidity making it feel remarkably youthful, I bet we’ll need a decade to see further evolution and secondary development here, but for the near term it is just a joyful and positive refresher that will go with oysters, smoked/cured meats and perfect for lively summer sipping. It’s charm is it’s inner energy rather than beauty, it gains more complex layers with air, while staying firm and focused, it’s more appealing to those inclined towards austere style wines, while it’s a study in dry extract, it’s not exotic or showy, lingering with it’s racy tangerine, faint rosewater and citron. Herr von Kunow certainly believes the Saar will be the next big thing in Riesling, even claiming that it can produce the world’s greatest Riesling, it’s going to be fascinating to see his progress with von Hovel, so far the results are impressive.
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2015 Shared Notes, Sauvignon Blanc “Les Pierres qui decident” Russian River Valley.
This might be a contender for American white wine of the year! I’ll go on record, I’m usually not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan, especially ones from the new world, yes, I’m admitting I’m very hard on and snobby about Sauvignon Blanc, preferring Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume, Alto Adige and even the Pfalz, in particular Von Winning’s 500 Sauvignon Blanc, but Jeff Pisoni & Bibiana González Rave’s Shared Notes “Les Pierres qui decident” is something quite extraordinary, it’s wine inspired by the great wines of Didier Dagueneau and crafted to near perfection, it’s a wine that has it all and more. This epic white wine shines with vibrancy, depth and gorgeous detail with bright mineral focus, leesy texture along with stunning purity by two of California’s best young winemakers, the husband and wife have teamed up with this label, hence the name, Shared Notes, making a set of Sauvignon Blanc based wines that don’t compete with their day job wines with Jeff making his family wines at Pisoni and Lucia Vineyards while Bibiana is making Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer wines. This 2015 Les Pierres qui decident starts with a classic notes of orange blossom, mineral spice, melon, cat piss (gooseberry) and persimmon before lemon/lime, white peach, kumquat and a touch of brioche in a steely medium full palate that while rich and hedonistic stays brisk/crisp throughout with subtle sur lie and wood notes. This is a thrilling Sauvignon Blanc, with amazing lift and succulent mouth feel, absolutely worth every penny, I’d love to put this wine in a blind tasting with my favorites and see where it ranks, I’d almost bet it would finish top, it has style, class and wonderful sex appeal, it’s in league with the mentioned Dagueneau, Terlano’s Quarz and the top cuvees of Gerard Boulay! This wine proves the San Francisco Chronicle got it right when it named Bibiana González Rave winemaker of the year, and if you still need any more evidence just try her own Cattleya (label) wines, especially her Soberanes Syrah, while Jeff Pisoni is no slouch either, just look at his Pisoni Estate Pinot, this is a power couple to state the obvious. For me, in the world of Sauvignon Blanc, there have been two great surprises, Von Winning’s 500 Sauvignon Blanc from the Pfalz in Germany and this Shared Notes Russian River Valley Les Pierres qui decident Sauvignon Blanc, both of which look to challenge for my top ten white wines of the year! Do not miss this wine…
($65 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

2014 Domaine Charles Audion, Bourgogne Rouge, France.
This bright ruby/garnet colored Burgundy is wonderfully sweet fruited and juicy fresh with nice detail, life and almost surprising length, making this Charles Audion Bourgogne Rouge a very delightful class act. Mostly known for their Marsannay, Domaine Audion is now run by Charles’ son Cyril is continuing to produce quality and fair priced red, white and rosé bottilings that highlight the regions terroir earthiness and mineralite, but with generous fruit, this is showcased certainly even here in their basic Burgundy. The sandy and clay with limestone gives the wine it’s presence, and mineral driven profile according to Cyril Audion, who only has vines in Marsannay lieu-dit and cru sites that are well known and historically acclaimed, and even this basic cuvee Bourgogne AC comes from de-classified Marsannay lots. Pretty rosewater, candied bing cherry, wild plum and Asian spices burst from the glass along with raspberry, strawberry and cranberry fruits on the round open palate before an acidic lift of citrus rind as well as hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, loamy stones, saline, anise tea and chanterelle. Not overly complex honestly, but a solid and more than competent Burgundy and I really enjoyed this Audion, it is a fine example of the vintage to drink now and a great gateway wine to glimpse into the Domaine’s wines and of Marsannay itself. Imported by Martine’s Wines, Charles Audion is a winery to start following more seriously, I remember being impressed with their 2008, 2010 and 2012’s, but these 2014’s seem to take it to the next level, drink this enter level Burgundy over the next 3 to 5 years.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

n.v. Maison Louis de Grenelle, Saumur Brut Rose, “Corail” Sparkling Wine, Loire Valley, France.
This is a brilliant organic Brut 100% Cabernet Franc from the Saumur region of France’s Loire Valley flows with a luxurious mousse and bright detail showing fresh strawberry, light cherry and brioche as well as a mineral steeliness. This non vintage Brut Saumur from Louis de Grenelle, an estate founded back in 1859, imported by Jon David Headrick and European Cellars (Eric Solomon) is wonderfully delicate, elegant and very stylish, it’s an exceptional value for the price that you’ll want to score by the case, all bubbles fans should search this well crafted methode champenoise. Each sip brings new pleasures in this Cabernet Franc Brut Rose, leading with light citrus and spice notes, dry fruitiness, chalky stones and faint floral elements with distilled rose petals. This sparkling wine is a sleeper offering high quality for the price and will prove a savvy choice for bistros and wine bars and great for party or everyday bubbly, it’s a crisp and cool way to celebrate any occasion or event. Cremant and or Prosecco fans will be impressed with this one, I know I was thrilled and I will be putting money where my mouth is and grab a case of this stuff!
($17 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2016 Alma de Cattleya, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County.
From Bibiana Gonzalez Rave-Pisoni’s second label Alma de Cattleya this pretty Rosé of Pinot Noir, crafted from cool climate Sonoma sites it’s a crisp and vibrant Rosé with bright strawberry, sour cherry and watermelon fruits, chalky stones, floral tones bursting from the glass. Bibiana’s main label Cattleya, named after the Orchid, the national flower of her native Colombia is one of California’s most exciting newer wineries with an exceptional lineup up of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and my favorite her Syrah, with this second line of value wines under the Alma de Cattleya label originally only for the Colombian market, but now available on a limited basis here in California. Bibiana González Rave-Pisoni, married to Jeff Pisoni of Pisoni Estate, Lucia Vineyards and Fort Ross, has made wine around the world, her CV is extremely impressive with stints in Bordeaux, Alsace and with Ogier in Cote-Rotie as well as being the head winemaker at Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer today, her wines show a remarkable class and clarity. I love the 2016 vintage for Pinot Noir Rosé, and this one joins a few top picks including Brooks Winery, Stoller, Alfaro Family and Pisoni’s Lucy to name a few of the years best. This 2016 Bibiana González Rave Alma de Cattleya Rosé is all Pinot Noir, it’s surprisingly lithe and focused considering the 14.1% alcohol, though it does gain texture and ripe detail with air which gives it a certainly charm and flexibility with cuisine. Lingering rosewater, spice and citrus give this savvy Rosé a nice cut and finish, be sure to search this pink wine out and do not miss the fantastic Cattleya Soberanes (Alban Clone) Syrah, it’s one of the top Rhone inspired wines in California!
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2015 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes, Cru Classe, Cotes de Provence Rosé, France.
One of the most interesting wines in France, the Clos Cibonne Tibouren is a light Vin Gris (Rosé) made from a pale red grape that is extremely rare these days, Clos Cibonne is the only estate that is allowed to use Tibouren (varietal) on it’s labels do to it’s history and is one of only 18 Cru Classes in the Cotes du Provence. Clos Cibonne dates back to 1797 and still is is the hands of the Roux family descendants, with many re-vitalizations along the way, with Andre Roux making the historic decision in 1930 to ditch the post phylloxera Mourvedre and Grenache (brought in from Spain in the late 1,800’s) and to re-interoduce the native Tibouren grape being the one heroic moment that was the game changer here, though recent upgrades to the cellar and intriguing winemaking have elevated this estate to it’s current glory. The Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes Rosé is crafted from the oldest estate vines, about 60 years old on average, grown on schist soils, fermented in stainless with a light maceration then aged in 100 year old foudre(s) for a year on it’s lees under fleurette (Flor like fino sherry) which is unique and gives this Rosé it’s signaler style and character. The wine feels silky and earthy with a hint of cheesiness and truffle, it’s delicate orange/pink/salmon hue belies it’s depth and complexity, this is glorious old world wine with an inner vibrancy, but with wood aged silken textures, showing spicy mineral notes to go with subtle fruit essences that leans towards dried cherries, wild strawberry, quince paste, red peach and blood orange with hints of wilded rose, lavender, wet river stones, saline/iodine, faint nutty elements and damp/dankness. The tasting profile is refined, regardless of the wording and wonderfully seductive, even with it’s leathery wrapping, this is a Rosé by Clos Cibonne that fills the palate with cool crispness, but still rich in mouth feel and length making this a fascinating wine, and it can age for years!
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

2013 Domaine Drouhin-Laroze, Bonnes Mares, Grand Cru Red Burgundy, France.
This small estate in the heart of Gevrey-Chambertin has some great vineyard holdings in top Crus, including Clos de Beze, Musigny and this wine, which comes from a small parcel at Bonnes-Mares, it was founded back in 1850 and is still family run by Philippe and Christine Drouhin the 5th generation, with their kids ready to become the 6th soon. I’ve tasted a few of the amazing 2014’s at a trade tasting recently, but I must mention that this 2013 Bonnes Mares really lived up to this vineyard’s reputation of being wondrous and was a huge thrill, Domaine Drouhin-Laroze really delivered in a non-hyped vintage and it shows awesome Grand Cru class, this is a gorgeous and exotic Pinot Noir, in fact it over delivers for the price when compared to other Bonnes Mares, especially considering the year. While young and tight at first glance, with air this Drouhin-Laroze Bonnes Mares Grand Cru opens up to reveal dark violets, a rich tapestry of spice and mineral and deep extract with a palate of black cherry, dusty currant, wild plum and forest berries fruit as well as sweet leather, earth, anise, smoke, chanterelles, cinnamon and rose oil. This wine was absolutely adored by all those that drank it, it was enjoyed on a night of fantastic wines, including a ’47 Bordeaux, vintage Bandol and a 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and it maybe took wine of the night! Brilliant detail, life and balance highlight this Burgundy, but it’s sexy nature and powerful richness seduced completely, Drouhin-Laroze’s Bonnes Mares (in the Chambolle-Musigny section) comes from calcareous pebbles, clay and ferruginous red soil and is aged in low to medium toast barrique, about 80% new. Bonnes Mares is known in Burgundy as the “Alien” because of it’s totally unique intensity and flavor profile with a generous array of weighty fruitiness, but with dynamic focus, vibrancy and length, it was named after a Roman artifact found here portraying a trinity of Roman goddesses, which was a tribute to good harvests, which this wine showcases! While the 2014 version will be a treasure, this 2013 is a stunner that will surprise with hedonistic pleasures, with a potential to age well for another decade with ease.
($156 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

2015 Domaine Weinbach, Riesling, Schlossberg Grand Cru, Kaysersberg, Alsace, France.
The wonderfully dry and stylishly delicate Domaine Weinbach Grand Cru Schlossberg Riesling gains a rich palate with air, but remains beautifully detailed, crisply focused and feels heavenly light in the mouth. This beauty will evolve and fill out over the next few years in bottle, it surprises for it’s youthful elegance in such a warm and seemingly concentrated vintage, terroir class really shines through here, Ghislain Berthiot, enologist, and by Celestino Soares, vineyard manager, have done a masterful job of guiding this wine to this stage, starting with biodynamic farming and careful and studied winemaking from selected sites with in Schlossberg, the region’s first Grand Cru vineyard, the grapes are hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, with 24 hour must soaks, native yeast fermentations and the use of large oval neutral casks, making for soulful and gloriously pure wines as this one certainly is. The granite soil of Schlossberg’s hills shows through with it’s flinty mineralite and laser like focus and graceful lines, with seductive apricot, verbena/lemon, kumquat, white plum and juicy lime fruits as well as wet river rock, peach and chamomile tea, subtle leesy notes, bright almond, tangy herbs and pretty floral elements with lingering rosewater and zest tangerine. Look for this pale gold hued dry Riesling to gain a bit of curvy weight, though not flab in time, this should age with stellar results. Even though it’s great now, this is a wine that will reward patience, it will have a long window of fantastic drinking, best from 2020 to 2029. Domaine Weinbach and Faller family continue to craft masterpieces from their Clos des Capuchins estate which was originally found way back in 1612 by local monks, now led by Catherine and her son Theo, after a few tragedies for the family, including the loss of Catherine’s mother Colette and sister and winemaker Laurence in recent years, the future looks good for this world class Domaine, don’t miss these awesome 2015’s!
($46 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2015 Roar, Chardonnay, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Gary Franscioni’s Roar label has been quietly flying under the radar in recent years, with wonderful wines being crafted by the talented Scott Shapley, their winemaker, because the wines have been so good they sell out almost immediately to their mailing or the lucky restaurant or wine merchant without much fanfare. So it was great to catch up with a new release from Roar, as a fan of Shapely’s efforts past and an early admirer of Roar, in fact the first vintage 2001, and I was not let down at all with this 2015 Soberness Chardonnay, it’s a full bodied concentrated white with vivid detail and lavish textures. Soberanes Vineyard is an awesome young vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands run by Mark Pisoni and crew, the Chardonnay block is planted to Old Wente clone, while the Syrah block is Alban clone and the Pinot Noir is the original Pisoni clone grown above the lower bench on a vein of quartz and granite soils with a dusting of gravel and loam not far from Garys’ Vineyard. The 2015 vintage was intense and with a smaller than normal crop adding to the richness of this Soberanes Chardonnay with honeysuckle, honeyed pear, kiwi and smoky vanilla leading the way with expressive force before filling out on the palate with apple, lemon curd, hazelnut, wet stones, sweet fennel and layered creaminess without being cloying or flabby much in the same way as Corton-Charlemagne, Pahlmeyer or Luc Morlet wines do so well. This is without a doubt a flamboyant and impressive wine, but it still charms with a burst of orange zest and vibrant pineapple that allows the refined acidity to shine through, best with soft/stinky cheeses, fatty fish, buttered lobster and or creamy pasta with prawns with it’s regal nature, drink from 2018 to 2026.
($48 Est.)
93-94 Points, grapelive

2003 Schloss Johannisberger, Riesling Spatlese, Grunlack, Rheingau Germany.
The fast maturing and ripe 2003 Schloss Johannisberger Grunlack (Green Lacquer) showed remarkable form and hedonistic pleasure, and even though I worry it won’t age much more or get better, it was a joy to drink recently with almost creamy texture, balanced sweet fruit stone fruit and just enough vibrancy to keep the thrill alive. There might be some bottle variation with this wine, as I must admit I had a bottle about 6 months ago that was much darker amber and it had lost it’s way, but this bottle from the same set, that was bought on, was perfect and stylish from start to finish with classic detail, sexy fruit and texture and with solid length. While 2003 was blistering hot and a massively low acid year, some parts of Germany fared better, but over all it is not a vintage to look for if you want a crisp and classic version of Rheingau Riesling, though Leitz’s Rudesheimer Berg Crus were exceptional given the conditions. The summer’s scorching heat brutalized Europe in 2003, making simple fruity wines that lacked complexity or finesse, making this one a bit of a shock really as it somehow has managed a window of magic showing layers of mineral, spice and earthy charm to go with the opulence of sweet peach, nectarine, baked apple and dried mango fruits, it even brightened mid palate with some citrus, loamy notes, white anise tea, a touch of shale, almond paste and saline elements before a honeyed richness fills the palate lingering non with candied orange, golden fig, lime sorbet and rosewater. Schloss Johannisberg, Germany’s oldest Riesling producer it’s a historic winery which puts a lot of weight on cellar master Gerd Ritter’s shoulders, makes traditional and age worthy Rieslings from vines grown on mixed soils with less slate and more loam in the commune of Geisenheim. The golden and amber edged and slightly tropical 2003 Schloss Johannisberger Grunlack Spatlese is almost Auslese like in weight and feel, but not frighteningly cloying, but drink sooner versus later, it is a great and fun way to try mature Riesling without too much expense.
($40 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

2014 Capiaux, Pinot Noir, Widdoes Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
Sean Capiaux’s 2014’s are some of his best wines to date, the ex-Peter Michael man has crafted a great set of wines that seem more energy filled and elegant than I remember, even though I’ve been a long time fan, these really impressed me with their class and length, especially his Widdoes Vineyard, which is a stunning example of Russian River Valley Pinot. The fine tuned Widdoes 2014 shows a beautiful and heighten perfume of morning rose and subtle violet with hints of spice, frambois and light smoky vanilla leading to a dark fruited palate that shows a finessed touch with black cherry, plum and strawberry along with cinnamon, sweet tea and a bit of mission fig and saline. This wine is richly flavored, but still vibrant and not at all heavy, look for Chapeaux’s 2014 Widdoes to age with grace and gain in detail, Sean uses cool maceration in stainless, with severe sorting and mostly de-stemmed grapes, employing native fermentations and less new oak in this cuvee, about a third new, and aged between 10-15 months in French barrique, before resting in bottle, unfined and unfiltered. This ruby and bing cherry hued Pinot Noir is a open and generous wine that pleases from start to finish with silky tannins, ripe fruit layers and lifting juicy acidity, all highlighting a near perfect vintage in the region, it’s the cat’s meow even now, though I believe it should improve with a couple of years in the cellar, best from 2019 to 2026.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2013 La Spinetta, Barbaresco, Valeirano, Vursu, Piedmonte, Italy.
The youthful and compact Valeriano Cru Barbaresco from Giorgio Rivetti looks set for a marvelous future, and while I usually rave on and on about his Starderi Cru, which is most often my personal favorite, this Valeirano 2013 certainly has all the charms and it’s highly seductive in it’s gorgeous layering and striking length. This modern Barbaresco saw 20 plus months in new French medium toast Barriques, it’s a non filtered and unfined cuvee from a granite rich site known as the Tresio vineyard, which gives it’s floral and mineral toned nature, it’s full bodied and with ripe tannins, but should age with graceful vitality and substance. This wine has a great track record for cellaring with style and this warm vintage 2013 has classic Nebbiolo intensity and character, I was expecting a lot and ended up even more impressed than I could have imagined, I found an inner beauty and delicacy that belies the forces of nature and youth, as well as the new oak, this is a smashing wine of class and presence, and it will only get better from here! This 2013 La Spinetta is forceful on the palate with firm framing, but with a sexy opulence and an attention grabbing nervy lift, it’s without a doubt pure Nebbiolo at it’s best with brandied cherry, damson plum, raspberry and tangy currant fruitiness along with flinty stones, vanilla, saline infused licorice, cola bean, minty basil and a hint of bacon. The mix of spring flowers and rose petal are so far quite subtle, but there and add to the polished and lavish flavors, while the mouth feel expands with air allowing a glimpse into the future of this Barbaresco that looks to become a full bodied effort once everything is in place. It will, in my opinion, turn out to be of the same class as a modern Grand Cru Burgundy, in a way it reminds me of a Corton with it’s deep red fruits and garnet/ruby hue in the glass, great stuff to put away for 10 to 15 years!
($150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2016 Strub, Silvaner, Feinherb, Rheinhessen Germany.
The barely off dry Silvaner by Sebastian Strub is a jewel of a white wine that drinks beautifully, it’s vibrantly bright with a steely frame and lightly fruity showing wonderful mineralite. This flexible and vital Rheinhessen Silvanner is a steal and shows the grape’s charm in Germany, where it is growing in plantings and gaining a solid following from drinkers and wine growers, once almost only found in Alsace and here in the Rheinhessen and Franken, where it has it’s own Grand Cu and Premier Cru sites, Silvaner is now found all over Germany and even in California, it’s a remarkable come back from this varietal that has seen some dramatic ups and downs. Even with it’s touch of RS, this wine should be considered dry and delicate on the palate, it’s in no way a sweet wine and makes for a great alternative to the sea of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Strub farms parcels of Niersteiner, with some great sites in Hipping and Pettenthal that are a mix of red slate and limestone soils, their Rieslings from 2016 are wonderful examples with the Hipping Feinherb ‘Thal standing out along with this Silvaner, as well as the new Pinot Noir Rose and their Gruner Veltliner. The Strub Silvanner starts with light lime blossom, saline and green apple with a chalky/stony essence and lemongrass before widening a touch on the vital palate with steely lemon/lime, white peach and subtle verbena and wet shale. This light and refreshing white is stylish in a bistro quaffer kind of way and is a super summer sipper, great on it’s own and very nice with lighter fare and sea foods, especially clams in wine broth, drink it now and often!
($16 Est.) 91 Points,

2009 Francesco Brigatti, Motziflon, Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo, Alta Langhe, Piedmonte, Italy.
Wow, It is always great to discover a new producer of great wines, and Francesco Brigatti is that, from the Alta Langhe hamlet of Suno, close to the Ghemme region, making organic old school Nebbiolo and Barbera based wines. This northern part of Piedmonte is getting a lot of attention these days, especially during warmer vintages, as the area is now easily capable of making wines the class or depth of the more famous Barolo and Barbaresco Crus, and most are significant values! Wines from Le Piane, like their awesome Boca DOC Nebbiolo, Monsecco’s Ghemme and Antoniolo’s Gattinara DOCG lead the way here, but I was thrilled by Brigatti’s 2009 Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo, which has a tiny amount of other native grapes, such as Vespolina blended in, as these wines usually historically field blends. Brigatti, who employs traditional hand crafted practices, uses native fermentations, long gentile macerations and ages in used large oak casks to make his wines, they show his soulful approach in the care and detail, this 2009 Motziflon delivers deep Nebbiolo charm with brandied cherries, rose oil and earthy leather and spices, it’s ripe, but with great life and vigor. This Alto Piedmonte red is grown on ancient glacial moraine with mineral saltiness at about 800 feet, giving pure Nebbiolo grip and vibrancy, but with refined tannins of the warm year allowing richness to shine of the medium full palate with snappy red currants, briar laced raspberry, damson plum and racy cherry/kirsch along with tobacco leaf, porcini, salted black licorice, orange rind and with subtle meat/iron and contrasting savory notes, finishing with joyous and lingering violette. Delicate ruby in color, with orange tinted edges, this Brigatti Motziflon Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo is simply glorious and should drink well for many years to come, imported by Balanced Wine Selections in Colorado, this is a producer to search out, can’t wait to try his 2010!
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2015 Morgan, Syrah “G17” Santa Lucia Highlands.
Morgan seems revitalized with the latest set of releases, the whites from 2016, the Albarino and Riesling are especially lovely dry wines, but I really loved the G17 Syrah, it’s a full bodied effort that still showcases it’s cool climate nature. While known for Chardonnay and Pinot, in particular their Double L Estate wines, their Rhone inspired offerings are stylish and interesting wines and are solid values with this G17 leading the way with rich black fruits, pepper spice and olive notes. I have been saying since the 2004 vintage, that Syrah is the unsung hero of the SLH, I really think Syrah has reached the quality of the regions Pinot Noir, in some cases and some years it is even better, just try the Pisoni’s Lucia, Cattleya and Roar Syrahs, as well as Big Basin’s or even Joyce’s Tondre to see just how good they are! Morgan’s 2015 starts with a hint of smoke, minty spice, blueberry and crushed violets leading to a rich and round palate, delivering boysenberry, wild plum, black cherry and blueberry fruits along with tapenade, anise, earthy loam, tobacco leaf, cedar, vanilla and framboise. The vintage was concentrated and ripe, allowing for smooth tannin and opulent mouth feel, while maintaining good energy and focus. If you are thinking about exploring central coast Syrah, this one is a solid gateway into these wines, it’s polished, elegant and nicely juicy in style, drink now.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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