Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2020

2017 Scribe Winery, Pinot Noir, Estate Arrowhead Slope, Sonoma County.
The 2017 Scribe Estate Pinot is very pretty stuff, full of flavor and warmth, but with sublime delicacy and detail, it is very impressive for the vintage which saw a heat spike that caused lots of problems around harvest time, that doesn’t show too much here and I give credit to the hard work in the vineyard and winemakers here, they’ve produced a beautiful wine that is drinking great. I can’t wait to try the 2018 and 2019 versions, as these years really are looking like next level vintages in terms of depth, balance and age worthiness, that said I would not mind having this 2017 to enjoy for the next 3 to 5 years with its lovely satiny structure and opulent mouth feel. Scribe, founded back in 2007 and making quality wines since 2011, is what people call a Farm to Table winery, is owned by brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani, who are fourth generation California farmers, they are passionate about sustainable/holistic practices and committed to non intervention winemaking to allow the estate vines to speak of their terroir, which shows with remarkable clarity in this 2017 Estate Pinot. I have enjoyed every wine I have tasted from Scribe so and this one is wonderfully pleasing from start to finish with layers of black cherry, wild raspberry, strawberry and fleshy stone fruits and touches of Moro orange, Earl Grey tea, sweet herbs and a subtle toasty oak note. This is supple and graceful Pinot Noir that seems to get better with every sip, it opens to reveal floral, gentle red spices and mineral notes that linger in the glass with echos of the core cherry element on the lengthy finish, very tasty indeed.

Scribe’s organically farmed Estate vineyard sits on the southwest-facing slopes of the Arrowhead Mountain in the southern Mayacamas Mountain range, near to Denmark Street in Somona Valley, getting perfect exposure to the sun and cooling influence from San Pablo Bay to the south. The Scribe Pinot vines are planted to clones 667, Martini, Pommard, Chalone, Mt. Eden, and Wadenswil, also known as the old Swiss clone which are on volcanic tuff and local Huichica Loam soils, all of which add to the complexity and distinction of flavors in this wine. Andrew and Adam, along with their sister Kelly, who has joined them at Scribe, believe that the best wines are a result of a healthy relationship between man and nature, and explain, that their vineyard farmed in harmony with the greater ecosystem results in more site-specific character that best represents a true sense place. This 2017 re-enforces their argument and was vinified, with the mentioned, non-interventionist methods, native yeasts and restraint in the use of new French oak, that as Scribe puts it, faithfully reflects what the vineyard naturally expresses in the bottle. Scribe also does a Nouveau Pinot, which just got released, a collection of Chardonnay(s), including a sparkling version, along with a tasty Rosé, a Dry Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon that are all quality efforts. I tasted this 2017 Estate Pinot Noir at the San Francisco Slow Wine tasting event where Scribe perfectly fit in with the likes of California classics Mount Eden, Littorai and Stony Hill. I highly recommend checking this lineup out and make plans to visit the winery when in the Sonoma area, especially now they have some exciting new releases ready to go to good homes!
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2020

2017 Manincor, Reserve del Conte, Lagrein, Merlot & Cabernet, Alto Adige, Italy.
Manincor is one of the most prized estates in the Alto Adige, it is all biodynamic and the wines are some of Italy’s best under the radar values with a fabulous collection of hand crafted offerings that includes some gorgeous blended wines like this Reserve del Conte as well as some incredible single varietal wines, like their Eichhorn made from Pinot Bianco, it is one of the world’s best versions of Pinot Bianco of Pinot Blanc I’ve tried. If you are a fan of Foradori and or Terlano, you’ll want to search out these Manincor wines, in particular this intriguing red blend, that is about equal parts Lagrein, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in most vintages and makes for a deeply colored and layered wine with dark berry fruit, a perfumed bouquet and mineral notes that is stunningly elegant. The Lagrein, a rare native grape to the Alto Adige, is the special sauce here adding to the intensity of this wine’s purple hue, floral tones and spicy flavors with the Merlot giving round textures, plumy depth and the Cabernet builds the structure and delivers creme de cassis and lingering blackberries. The tannins are ripe and smooth in this warm vintage and the Reserve del Conte drinks very opulently and with a graceful plush mouth feel, it gains delicacy with every sip with black cherry, plum, blueberry and currant fruits filling out on the refine medium/full palate along with snappy anise, cedar, minty herb and a hint of smoke, pencil lead and vanilla. There are few wines that drink as well as this for the price, this is a real charmer and while understated it is near impossible to resist, and even better with a great food pairing and a meal with friends. Manincor is owned and run by Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg, who’s family has a wine growing tradition for more than 400 years in the region, and the estate includes vineyards, extensive fruit orchards and several historic manor houses that date back to 1608. The Enzenberg family’s connection to Alto Adige’s wine community is well documented from as far back as 1698 and refer, according to the winery, to the Enzenberg family’s wine cellars in Terlan, Kaltern and Schwaz in North Tyrol.

The delicious 2017 Manincor Reserve del Conte, 35 % Lagrein, 40 % Merlot and 25 % Cabernet, comes from the Manincor estate and the “Panholzerhof”, both sites are south-east facing overlooking the picturesque Lake of Kaltern at 250 meters above sea level with soils that are mineral rich comprised of sand and clay mixed with limestone, gravel and other glacier (morainal) deposits. These vineyards are among the warmest in all South Tyrol, pre-destined, says the winery, for the production of great red wines, which this Reserve del Conte proves. I have been a fan of Manincor for many years now and these exceptional wines always bring a huge smile to my face and it was privilege and an honor to have tasted the wines in the past with Manincor’s owner Michael Graf Goëss-Enzenberg, who explained in great detail his love of place and his passion for holistic farming, you can tell immediately he is connected to his land and spares no expense in preserving it’s nature for future generations. The grapes, Lagrein, Merlot and Cabernet, from each parcel of vineyard sites were crushed separately and fermented in a mixture of oak and cement vats and stainless steel tanks. Manincor, in keeping with more natural winemaking practices uses 100% indigenous yeasts for primary fermentation. Maceration on the skins, as the winery notes, lasted ten days and was rigorously controlled, during which time the cap of skins was pushed down into juice daily to extract this wine’s velvety, assertive but ripe tannins. After going dry the wine was gently racked into oak barrels of varying sizes where it matured for twelve months before being bottled and rested in the cellar another few months to mature. This estate’s grapes have always been prized with most of crop going to top co-ops, but when Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg took over Manincor from his uncle in 1991 the estate started the process to produce their own wine under the Manincor label, this finally happened in 1996 after an intense rehabilitations in the vineyards, which are now certified biodynamic, and finding the best clonal selections of grapes and that hard work and belief can be seen in the bottle, this is a quality producer with wines that reflect the land and the people perfectly, that I highly recommend getting to know.
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 11, 2020

2016 Ernest Vineyards, Pinot Noir “The Wrangler” Grand Vent Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma Coast.
Tasted earlier this year, the 2016 Ernest Vineyards “The Wrangler” is an impressive bottling with loads of character and verve in the glass, it delivers a textural experience that is quite compelling and has beautiful detailing, this is only the second time I’ve had these wines, which have gained a real underground following since hitting the scene a few years ago, joining the likes of Anthill Farms in terms of quality and desirability. Richly flavored with classic Pinot fruit on the racy medium bodied palate the Ernest “The Wrangler” displays black cherry, raspberry, red apple skin, candied orange peel, plum and a touch of strawberry as well as delicate toasty oak, cinnamon, a touch of earthy spice and mineral tones. As you swirl this wine it gets deeper and more perfumed with rose petals, vanilla and creaminess coats the mouth. This stuff is also structured and vibrant with cool climate acidity in its veins that allows a clarity and focus to shine through, this will get your attention and makes for a very nice companion to food and a talking point at a leisurely meal. I can’t wait to try more from Ernest Vineyards wines in the coming vintages, I can only imagine how fabulous their 2018 and 2019 wines will be, it should be some awesome times ahead for this label.

The Ernest Vineyards is a micro negociant based in Sonoma and hand crafted from selected vineyard site at a custom crush facility with fanatic attention to quality and they specialize in terroir driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with this being one of my favorite in the lineup, as well as the two Cleary Ranch bottlings. With this Grand Vent Vineyard, aptly named by the way as it refers to the huge rush of cold ocean air the accelerates through the wind gap, acting like a cool air vent keeping these Pinot vines refreshed. This wind, according to the winery, dictates everything at this 15-acre vineyard in Sonoma County and this particular parcel that sits in the mouth of the Petaluma Gap, where a blend of unique terroir, cool climate, and consistent wind yields long hang times that allow flavors to mature slowly and steadily. The majority of the Grand Vent Vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir with clones of Pommard 4 and Dijon 113 being the main versions and give this wine its soulful expression. Oh, and yes, there was a man named Ernest, he was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a role model for his grandson, Todd Gottula, who founded this winery with his wife, Erin Brooks, back in 2012. In 2019 Todd and Erin brought on Joseph Ryan, who I tasted with at Slow Wine, who worked the 2018 harvest, as Ernest’s Head Winemaker. Though he wasn’t there for this 2016, he guided the 2017s to bottle, but had more influence on the 2018s, and will have his 2019s out in a year or so, and there is much excitement for the future here, be sure to check these wines out at your soonest chance.
($62 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 10, 2020

2018 Marco Porello, Roero Arneis DOCG “Camestri” Piedmonte, Italy.
Arneis, which has been the Porello’s signature grape since the 1930s, is one of the tastiest treats in Italian white wine and can be truly excellent wines, like this Marco Porello Camestri 2018, which comes from the family’s organically farm vines in the Roero zone in Piedmonte’s Canele area, not too far away from Alba and Barolo with similar marl based soils. This crisp and vibrant Arneis gains in charm and depth as it unwinds in the glass with clear almost greenish/gold hue and light perfume of white flowers, ginger and anise coming through along with a range of citrusy fruit on the light to medium bodied palate with touches of steely mineral, white peach, wet stone and bitter liquid almonds. This white impresses for its brisk nature and zippy personality, but adds a textural dimension with food that gives the impression of seriousness and nobility. Coming from mainly from two distinct parcels with good exposures in the sub-appellations of Vezza d’Alba and Canele set on sandy and calcareous plots that give this wine its substance and ripe tone. If you are new to Arneis, the name translates to “little rascal” in the local dialect, given to the grape, because of its trickiness in the vineyard, as it needs lots of TLC. I highly recommend getting a few examples and dig into this grape, with Vietti, who is credited with saving Arneis from extinction, and Bruno Giacosa, as well as Marco Porello being great choices.

Marco Porello, the grandson of founder Cesare Porello, is as noted in my earlier review of his Barbera, an expert oenologist, he was educated first at the local Alba oenological school and then he studied in the Bordeaux, France, as well as spending some time training and gaining experience in the rival Tuscany region in Chianti Classico before returning and taking over the Porello estate. Marco Porello has run the winery since 1994, and now has over a 25 year track record and is highly admired for his wines, these offerings, which I first tried at San Francisco’s Slow Wine tasting event, include a collection of Barbera, Nebbiolo and this Arneis, with the winery mainly focused on Barbera, deservingly so, especially when you taste Marco’s brilliant examples. The Marco Porello Roero Arneis was all hand tended and hand harvested with great attention to sorting and careful grape selection to ensure intense flavors and quality. This vintage as per normal was fermented and aged solely in stainless steel tanks to promote clarity and freshness of detail, making for a zesty dry and floral white that goes great with tapas, appetizers and briny sea foods, like oysters and or smoked mussels. If you’ve not heard of or seen the Marco Porello wines, you should make a mental note to check them out, in particular the Barbera and this Arneis, which is a sublime value at around $15 a bottle. Piedmonte, mostly known for Nebbiolo and red wines has plenty to offer in interesting white wines and they should not be overlooked with Erbaluce, Timorasso and Arneis among the most intriguing.
($15 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 9, 2020

2017 Felsina Castelnuovo Berardenga, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
In the rolling hills, not far from Siena, just to the to the southwest sits Castelnuovo Berardenga, one of Chianti Classico’s most unique zones that for thousands of years was known for the quality of olive oils more than wine until wineries like Felsina turned this area into one of the best sites for Sangiovese in all of Italy, and even their most basic version, this Chianti Classico white label, is a prized and stylish effort. I have long been a huge fan of this winery, with the mid-nineties wines first attracting to this iconic label and their 1997 Fontalloro cementing my love my love for both Felsina and pure Sangiovese, it was a wine that could easily convince you that Chianti Classico was the equal of any region of the world, comfortable in the presence of top Bordeaux and or classic Rioja. This 2017 is less dense and concentrated than the fabulous 2016s from Felsina, but it really drinks well as a young wine and it has beautiful purity and graceful textural mouth feel with a bright Sangiovese personality, all of which make up for what it lacks in power and it is sublime with food, as you’d expect from this grape and Felsina. This Chianti Classico starts with dark berries, crushed flowers, minty herb and sandalwood before entertaining the medium bodied palate with a core of fruit that includes smoothly layered brambly raspberry, plum, black cherry and strawberry preserves along with a touch of Asian spice, cedar, anise, pipe tobacco and a hint of racy blood orange. The freshness of detail and natural acidity almost beg’s you to enjoy this Chianti with a rustic country meal and or with some nice pecorino cheese.

The classic Berardenga white label Felsina Chianti Classico comes from vineyards, as the winery notes, that are all located in the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune, in the southeastern part of the Chianti Classico appellation, as noted, to the southeast of Siena. Almost without exception, these vines are exclusively with a southwestern exposure, that delivers full ripeness, they sprawl across hilly slopes at an altitude ranging from 320-420 meters above sea level that allows a night time chill even in the heat of Summer, making for balanced and expressive Sangiovese. Geologically, again as the winery adds, these vineyards have distinct and individual underpinnings with an array of soils, with the higher parts seeing predominantly quartz and calcareous alberese mixed with alluvial pebbles as well as strataform sandstone and loams that add to the overall quality and complexity in Felsina’s lineup. The vines are mostly all Sangiovese, but Felsina also has tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon which they bottle separately and does not go into their Chianti Classico offerings, which are all varietally pure Sangiovese, like this 100% Sangiovese, but it should be noted too, that Felsina has multiple clones of Sangiovese from which they have to work with. The 2017 Chianti Classico was fermented and macerated in stainless steel tanks for almost two weeks with pneumatic (programmed) punchdowns and daily pump-overs. Once primary fermentation was complete the wine went into medium-size Slavonian oak barrels, and a small percentage into twice and thrice used oak barrels for 12 months of elevage, after which the final blend was chosen, or put together, and then bottled. The white label Felsina Chianti Classico is always a well crafted wine and a great value giving a big bang for the buck, as this 2017 version shows!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 8, 2020

2018 Folded Hills Vineyards, Grenache Estate, Whole Cluster, Santa Ynez Valley.
The juicy and fruit filled Whole Cluster and Carbonic Grenache from Folded Hills Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley is bright ruby in color and has nice floral dimension on the nose and its combination of overt red fruits and mixed spice makes it a really tasty wine, very much like a quality Cotes du Rhone with a hint of Cru Beaujolais. While tasting through three of their releases this year I kept coming back to this Grenache, it may not be their most structured or serious offering, but it is certainly wonderfully quaffable and addictively enjoyable. This fun Grenache has supple tannins, ultra smooth on the medium bodied palate with crushed raspberry, strawberry, plum and tangy red currant along with touch of pomegranate and cotton candy, before opening up and adding some light savory notes along with dried herbs, pepper, faint early tones and sticky lavender. I was impressed with the simplicity and delightful nature of this Folded Hills 2018, it drinks so well right now and with its acidity and ripeness go for another 3 to 5 years, though no waiting required. The Folded Hills grapes are grown organically following the biodynamic calendar, employing sustainable, old world practices in the vineyards, which have some natural limestone underneath that helps form the character of the wines. This whole cluster Grenache will play nicely with a wide array of cuisines, but I imagine it would be best with BBQ and or Pizza.

As noted in my earlier reviews, Folded Hills was one of the most pleasant of surprises at the Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco earlier this year and is a quality producer that looks set for success. Established not too many years ago by Andrew and Kim Busch, Folded Hills Vineyards is hand crafting a studied and exciting lineup of wines, leaning heavily on Rhone inspired efforts. The estate grown vines are set on sandy coastal soils in the cooler section of the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, where they focus on Grenache, which has proven very successful in this area. The Folded Hills I tasted were fresh and pure with a distinctive lighter touch and with expressive flavors, with their 100% whole cluster and carbonic fermented Grenache and their more serious August Red being my two favorites. These are stylish examples of California Rhones and the Busch’s have an amazing team working for them, both in the vines and in the cellar with Kiwi winemaker Angela Osborne from A Tribute to Grace, using her talents to make these small lot wines, along with Stolpman’s Ruben Solorzano doing his usual magic in the vineyards. Angela, one of best Grenache specialist in California, also does a Grenache based sparkler, a couple of whites, including a Roussanne and a Syrah offering as well, both of which I am curious about. I look forward to tasting more of their wines and visiting the farm in the coming year and I suggest checking Folded Hills out, especially this wine if you can, though I can tell you the 2019, from a stellar vintage might be even better.
($37 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 7, 2020

2016 Caparsa, Chianti Classico “Doccio a Matteo Riserva” Tuscany, Italy.
The absolutely gorgeous Doccio a Matteo Riserva by Caparsa is made from their best selection of grapes at their Radda estate set in the hills of chianti Classico, it is made up of about 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and it is wonderfully expressive, vintage dense and beautifully layered. I discovered this small winery at this year’s Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco, which seems like a thousand years ago, considering what has transpired this year and it remains a small bright spot in what have been trying times. As noted in my earlier review of this exciting new find (for me), Caparsa is run by Paolo Cianferoni, a talented winegrower, who is making wines that show indigenous varietals, mostly Sangiovese of course, still rule in this historic region. Using hand tended vines set about 400 meters above sea level and great exposure and cool night, these wines show great ripe fruit, but with exceptional balance, these are elegant offerings, especially this Doccio a Matteo Riserva that delivers a classic set of flavors including black raspberry, plum, strawberry and kirsch along with tobacco leaf, anise, sandalwood, dried flowers, mint and orange tea spices. Cianferoni uses a combination of oak vessels, employing French, Hungarian and Slovenian wood casks to age his wines, trying to find the magic formula to allow smooth textures, light smoky notes and preserving freshness and detail, which in this 2016, a legendary vintage, he did incredibly well. This dark garnet Doccio a Matteo has a firm, but supple mouth feel and a pure and lengthy finish, this is fabulous Chianti that impresses for not being jacked up with Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah and embraces its native grapes.

Caparsa is an all organic estate in the Radda zone close to the ancient Etruscan settlement at Poggio alla Croce where vines have been planted for more than 2,000 years, with Paolo Cianferoni making wines at this winery in these famous hillsides, and his 2016 lineup is a stellar set, especially this basic Chianti Classico. Radda is one of the most historic and picturesque areas in Tuscany and when I visited the region years old I fell in love with the views, the people and the tranquility of the place, as well as the wines, some of Italy’s greatest wines are crafted within a few miles of this little hamlet between Florence and Siena, like Montevertine and their famous Le Pergole Torte. I tasted this wine originally with Filippo Cianferoni, Paolo’s son, who is working with his father in the cellar, early this year, as mentioned, at Slow Wine, and he explained to me that Caparsa is working on crafting natural style wines with holistic practices in both the vineyard and the cellar, but is very practical and is very careful with their wines and uses temperature control and modern equipment to promote purity and freshness in his offerings. I am a big lover of Chianti Classico and will never forget my own experiences visiting this region and my day in Radda, which felt like a pilgrimage to Tuscany’s Mecca, it remains a place close to my heart and I am craving to travel back and make some new treasured memories and Caparsa will be on my list of visits. When I’m grabbing wines for Fall and Winter I look for wines like Le Miccine, Felsina and Montesecondo which go great with the shorter days and chilly nights and I will be adding Caparsa to my favorites. This world class red deserves your attention and is worth every hard earned penny, I can’t wait to enjoy it again soon.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 6, 2020

2017 Marjan Simcic, Sauvignon Blanc, Opoka, Jordana Cru, ZGP Brda, Slovenia.
This beautiful and deeply flavored Sauvignon Blanc from Marjan Simcic, who’s vineyards straddle the border between Italy and Slovenia in the Collio and Brda regions, is one of the best examples of pure Sauvignon Blanc outside of the Loire Valley. Simcic’s wines are a stunning collection of exceptional quality that deserve your attention and I again was highly impressed by them at the last Slow Wine tasting, where the wines were big hits. These outstanding wines are the result of the estate’s hillside vineyards and many microclimates that are set on calcareous soils, known as Opoka, with this wine coming from the marl based soil in Brda, Slovenia. Bright and sunny in nature on the nose with citrus blossoms the Simcic Cru Sauvignon Blanc turns on the intensity and depth on the palate with sharp gooseberry, lemon/lime, peach and quince notes. The mouth feel is more dense than you’d expect and it adds a steely mineral tone as it opens along with grapefruit zest and racy herbs. The extended lees aging delivers texture and complexity that raises the eye brows and makes for an incredible wine that reaches almost Dagueneau levels of thrills! The subtle wood accents come through, but remain more background elements with a touch of brioche, which is nicely off set by its chalk stony character and this very structured Sauvignon Blanc looks like it will age 10 to 15 years easy. Marjan’s estate in the Collio and Goriška Brda both in what are called the Gorizia Hills area not far from Italy’s northeastern Friuli-Venezia-Giulia is in a remote area and produces wines that boldly showcase a sense of place.

The Simcic Sauvignon Blanc saw a short 4 day skin contact maceration in 5,000 Litre stainless steel tanks and was pressed using soft pressure with a gentle pneumatic press with fermentation coming spontaneously with natural yeasts, allowing its terroir to shine through and limit green phenolics. Once this golden hued wine finished getting dry it was racked off to Smicic’s large wood vats, with 15 months in 4,000 Litre conical oak barrels known locally as tino, and then a final 5 months in 500 Litre oak barrels or tono, before bottling, though in some vintages the lees aging can last up to three years with usually two or so o the years in the large format oak and then a year in stainless tank. This Marjan Simcic Opoka Jordana Cru Sauvignon Blanc is very serious stuff and it joins his fabulous Pinot Noir and Ribolla (Gialla) in his set of latest releases, which are world class offerings. This region, which was devastated during bloody WWI battles and then split up after WWII, has long and storied wine history and wines like Simcic’s bring light and joy to this area, helping lift the darkness and banish the ghosts of the 21st century. Still not easily available in the States, Marjan’s wine are well worth searching for. These wines are impeccably crafted and unique, I have raved about them many times here on the grapelive.com website and in my reviews, each time I try them I get the desire to visit this part of Italy and Slovenia and discover its mysteries. I can’t wait to travel again and seeing new wine regions like this one not far from the historic Adriatic city of Trieste. I believe that Simcic’s wine, when tasted blind, would stand up to some of the world’s best, in particular his Pinot Noir and this Sauvignon Blanc.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 5, 2020

2014 Fattorie Romeo del Castello, Vigo, Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
Chiara Vigo’s Nerello Mascalase, always a treat and one of my favorite Mount Etna wines comes from the slopes of the Volcano and is a ripe and expressive example of this varietal. Chiara, who employed the help of Salvo Foti, who is one of the greatest growers and the godfather of the vines in this region of Sicily, crafts fruit forward and delicious wines that are passionately proud with terroir intensity and underlying savory tones that gives complexity. This vintage highlights why many people call Nerello Mascalase the Burgundy of Sicily with its delicacy, elegance and subtle earthiness making it a gem, plus its textural quality is opulent to the point of sublime. The 2014 Fattorie Romeo del Castello Vigo, like prior years, is sourced from a single estate parcel of vines called La Fruttiera, is rich and sweet fruited on the medium to full bodied palate with loads of spicy/flinty mineral charm, influenced heavily from the black lava rock and hardened ash soils, it drinks smoothly and satiny and as noted in earlier reviews the Vigo shows a regal depth and density. The nose starts with wild flowers, smoky shale, crushed raspberry, this wine has thrilling aromatics and supple fine grained (sweet) tannins. In the mouth you get racy red berry, sweet and tangy currants, kirsch and plum that is accented nicely with notes of iron, cedar, lavender, leather and grilled fennel. There is a nice cut of acidity and vibrant complexity in this 2014 that keeps things fresh as in matures in bottle and its noted mineral core and spice with subtle pepper flakes make everything really pop, especially with rustic cuisine, like grilled octopus, hard cheeses and or squid ink pasta dishes.

The Fattorie Romeo del Castello, set on the very edge of a no mans land and is located 700 meters up the slopes of Mount Etna is run by proprietor Rosanna Romeo’s daughter Chiara Vigo, with the pair having elevated this historic estate to a world class property. Vigo’s 14 hectares of vines are surrounded by a lava flow from an Etna eruption back in 1981 that threatened to destroy the whole estate, but in what could be called a miracle, the lava flow stop at the edge of their most prized old vines, luckily, for them and us, their 100 year old vineyard of Nerello Mascalese was spared. The grapes are all hand-tended and harvested using holistic and organic methods, as is the way of Salvo Foti, who as noted helped Vigo get things on track here. The Fattoria Romeo del Castello wines were originally fermented in open wood vats, but now the Vigo sees maceration and primary in stainless steel for clarity and freshness, but without added yeasts or enzymes and with strict temperature control using ultra low and sometimes no sulfur. The Vigo Nerello Mascalese, with a tiny bit of Nerello Capuccio, was aged in mainly older oak barriques for close to 12 months on the fine lees and then bottled without fining or filtration. The Vigo, as Chiara notes, first made in 2007, is the original wine at Romeo del Castello and is in homage to her father, and when she started making the Allegracore (the winery’s second wine) bottling the Vigo became or was elevated to a Riserva only produced in small quantities and only in the best vintages. The Vigo 2014 has Chiara’s grandfather Luigi Romeo del Castello on the label, each release features a different design that reflects Chiara’s love of family and expresses her own artistic talents as the designs are her own work.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 4, 2020

2014 Domaine Gilbert Picq & ses Fils, Chablis “Vosgros” Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
This beautifully pure and crystalline Chablis is really hitting its stride as it gets past its vigorous youthfulness and starts to get into full maturity with lovely white peach, lemon and apple fruits leading the way is this classical mineral and chalky/flinty Chardonnay. Coming from a lesser known, in fact I doubt I have ever had it before, Premier Cru, Vosgros this Picq is surprisingly rich and concentrated, but still vivacious and limestone driven in character. This wine highlights its terroir, with Chablis having its unique Kimmeridgian soils, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except here, Champagne and in southern England, it gives this wine its nature and adds to the racy acidity, steely element and its saline intensity. Kimmeridgian is a 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells that spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England to Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis in Northern Burgundy. Domaine Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils does a few different village level Chablis as well as two exceptional Premier Crus, both located in the winery’s home village of Chichée. These include Vaucoupin, a site that seems to gain in popularity with each vintage, though still not a common Premier Cru in Chablis, and the rare Vosgros, which is produced from the Picq’s oldest premier cru vines that were planted in the 1980s. This 2014 is just delicious stuff, it gains dimension with every sip and opens up with white flowers, clarified cream, clove spices and faint nuttiness.

The Picq domaine is led in the cellar by Didier and his gifted and natural talents are well known through the region, though these wines are not a house hold name here like Fevre, Dauvissat, Defaix, Droin, Louis Michel, Moreau-Naudet, Raveneau and or Brocard. These Picq Chablis wines are naturally fermented exclusively with indigenous yeasts and raised in 100% stainless steel tanks to preserve every detail, nuance and freshness, as well as the underlying expression of place. According to the winery, you won’t find any wood in the entire winery, they don’t use any barrel aging at all here. Usually I like a touch of neutral oak with Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis, but this Picq Vosgros is wonderfully soulful, complex and expressive with any and I am highly impressed by this delightful Chardonnay. Set in a cool valley that allows for a longer growing season Vosgros is located in the South West area of the Chablis appellation control in a mostly east facing natural amphitheater that gets great exposure to the sun that delivers density and ripe flavors to the wines, which Picq took full advantage of in this vintage. This secret Cru is an enthusiast’s site and these Vosgros wines are coveted by those with the know, and I am intrigued and will be searching out Chablis from this vineyard. This Picq is exciting with its dept and texture as well as what you’d call an inner brightness and natural acidity that gifts this wine its clarity, distinction and life, this is a winery to look for!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive