Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 13, 2018

2014 Clos Saint Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Rhone Valley, France.
Vincent Maurel’s beautiful and lush 2014 Chateauneuf du Pape old vines is cuvee blend of mostly Grenache, but with does of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin as well, made grapes grown on the classic terroir, set on clay and limestone, with galets (the round stones that litter the vines, from plots in and around the famous Le Crau cru. The Grenache for this Chateauneuf is aged in only concrete vats for 12 months, while the remainder is aged in used demi-muids of French oak, from vines that are between 50 and 100 years old, hence the impressive mouth feel and concentration of this fantastic Clos Saint Jean. I absolute love this bottling for it’s purity and hedonism, it can only be Chateauneuf du Pape and it continues to be one of the best values for elite and stylish Chateauneuf, it’s a sexy and ultra reliable choice for the cellar! This dark and loaded Chateauneuf Rouge Vieilles Vignes unfolds in deep layers with a full bodied palate of boysenberry, plum and spicy cherry fruits along with violette/creme de cassis, minty licorice, lavender, liquid stones, fig paste and pepper notes, it’s an opulent wine, but has lovely detailing, a firmness of structure and the vintage’s lift allowing for a lighter impression that makes it a joy with food and like 1999 Chateauneufs, especially Vieux Telegraphe, also from La Crau, it should be a surprising ager as well, I wish I had more damn of it, best from now until 2028.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 12, 2018

2017 Drew Family Cellars “The Suitcase” Rosé, California.
Drew’s dry pink wine is 90% Syrah, 5% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre, picked between 21.5 and 22 brix, from a field blend of their Syrah along with the small amounts of Grenache and Mourvèdre that is inter planted in (the Syrah, which is Chave clone) vineyard. It’s made using direct whole cluster pressing with native yeast fermentation using 50%-50% stainless tanks and neutral French oak barrels, making for a vibrant and textured Rosé. Don’t over look this dry pink from Jason Drew, it has a serious edgy intensity and a dense form, and as I am with all of his wines, greatly impressed, his wine it gains dramatically in the glass both in terms of complexity as well as textually, and while I usually don’t like Syrah as much in Rosé guise, this stuff I absolutely love! Brilliant clear acidity, plenty of raw extract make for a mouth watering experience with a flow of bright flavors with a layered medium weight palate of cranberry, blueberry and wild strawberry fruits in that distilled essences sort way come through with a kiss of citrus, watermelon (without the overtly fruity element) and chunky mineral tones, wild herbs and florals along with a tart, high-toned and tangy cherry note that lingers. This is a Rosé that has a authentic rustic character and charm that seduces the palate and like Drew’s red wine offerings seems to really gain with air, but always has a wonderful inner bright/energy and crisp (powerful) vigor, and while it would not disappoint for easy warm pool side sipping it certainly with be much more appreciated with substance cuisine-wise, the more robust the better. This Rosé by Drew, along with the sister Albarino under “The Suitcase” label are rarities going out mainly to their mailing list, like you needed another reason to get on there list! (You definitely NEED to be on it) Drink this one over the next year, not that you need to be told that of course, because there’s no way to resist it, it’s an intriguing dry Rosé to enjoy now. If you haven’t tried Drew, it’s way past time, these are are some of California’s best wines, especially their Syrah and Pinot Noir jottings from mid elevation sites close to the ocean, on marine sedimentary soils, in the western side of the Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge, these are amazing wines and exciting times for this region.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Special Tasting Report, Oregon Stars

Grapelive Special Report: Some New Oregon Beauties

“While Oregon remains a great source of great and long-lived Pinot Noir, it’s no longer a one trick pony! There is an amazing array of wines to chose from in the Willamette made from varietals you’d maybe not expect, these include Gruner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Friulano, Riesling and especially Pinot Blanc, just to name a few. It’s a very exciting time to be an Oregon fan, the latest vintages have been extraordinary!” -Kerry Winslow, grapelive

New Oregon Wines to Look For

2016 Bow & Arrow, Sauvignon Blanc, Union School Vineyard, Willamette Valley.
The Loire inspired Bow & Arrow Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the Union School Vineyard in the warmer Southern side of the Willamette Valley is a ripe oak aged example that Scott Franc fermented in large format French oak puncheon and aged in his cellar for 10 months. This is an example of rich and detailed Sauvignon that gives a nod to some of the more classic versions from places like Pouilly-Fume or the Cru Sancerres like those of Gerard Bouley, it’s one of the best, if not the best SB I’ve tried from Oregon. Bow & Arrows winemaker Scott Frank, who worked under the legendary John Paul at Cameron Winery, says the Union School was the first site they got Sauvignon Blanc from and turned out to be perfectly suited to make his traditional style of Sauvignon Blanc, and even though not much in vogue these days this richer and oak influenced wine gets your attention white delicate floral tones and textural mouth feel adding quinces, lemon/lime and fresh picked stone fruits along with leesy brioche, sweet French oak and round melon notes. While dense and with a medium/full body there is still plenty of lift and persistence here with a heightened sense of acidity and vitality of form, this was put together with exceptional care. There is a lot to love in this Sauvignon Blanc, it is very entertaining and has real serious substance to it, and while not Dagueneau, it is a thrill for the money, in fact it’s a steal for the quality, and better yet it has potential to age well too, I bet it gets way better with a few more years in bottle, best from 2019 to 2026.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2014 Westrey, Chardonnay, Oracle Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This beautiful and very Chassange like single vineyard Chardonnay, crafted by talented winemakers Amy Wesselman and David Autrey, hence the name Westrey, from the Dundee Hills’ Jory (volcanic) soils of the Oracle Vineyard, it’s a lovely expression of place and class with subtle oak nuance and a refined medium body. This Westrey Oracle Chard is cooly crisp with fine mineral tones and delicate layers of fruit along with modest alcohol that adds to that Burgundy like feel, it has a nice acidic lift and gains a lovely textural presence in the glass while staying vibrant and graceful throughout it’s length. Layers included on the palate include an array of citrus and tangy apple and pear fruit along with a steely form and structure along with hints of hazelnut, wet stones, saline and a light cream note, as well as golden fig, a dusting of backing spice, lemon curd and lime blossom. This vintage was a nice surprise, it’s maturing well and it’s my favorite from this winery, and while I don’t get that excited by Oregon Chardonnay normally, this wine really impresses for it’s quality and value. This worth looking for and it’s ready to enjoy now, it’s in a good spot, best between 2018 and 2022.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2008 Montage Vineyards, Pinot Noir “The Etzel Family Vineyard” Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Montage Vineyards is a value wine producer from California based in Malibu, where they have some vineyards, but they got their start being a Negociant, buying lots from quality wineries and selling them on under their own label at reasonable prices. The multiple regional fruit sources led to the name Montage, they first got Pinot from Beaux Freres, one of Oregon’s best wineries, adding some lots from the Sonoma Coast and other regions. The Etzel Family Vineyard Pinot 2008 is an elegant and ripe Pinot, which for ten years old is remarkable fresh and with delicate sweet fruit and subtle smoky French oak, it isn’t quite up to the pedigree of the official Beaux Freres, but this declassified single vineyard, Upper Terrace, was crafted using Dijon clones 115 and 667 from the Upper Terrace of the Beaux Frères Estate. This 5 barrel lot was 100% de-stemmed, with a gentile pressing and with all native yeast fermentation, employing the classic Burgundy style reductive winemaking, it was aged on the lees for 18 months in 25% new French oak barriques. Absolutely a steal at $25 at release, it will be a tough find now, sadly I didn’t get a couple of cases, it shows wild strawberry, cherry and dusty raspberry fruits as well as light minty anise, silky tannins and refined acidity, which matches what you’d expect in such a vintage, it almost has a subtle Grenache like character, which is funny as I know there is Grenache planted up there in the Beaux Freres Upper Terrace! Not as deep or layered as I would have hoped, this is still a lovely wine and easy to love, drink up it’s at it’s peak.
($25-35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2017 Cameron Winery, Pinot Bianco “Giovanni” Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Oregon is without question the newest hot spot for Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco), yes you heard correctly, not Pinot Gris, which can be a nice wine here obviously, it’s Pinot Blanc, which in recent vintages has proven to rival top offerings from Alto Adige and the great wines of Alsace, that stands out and this Carmeron 2017 Dundee Hills Giovanni (Pinot Blanc) is a piercing example of this varietal. Absolutely vibrant and electric on the palate with zingy lemon/lime, white peach, loads of Asian pear and green melon notes it adds wet stone, a fine mineral streak and light garden herb and spices. Made by John Paul, the Oregon legend who has some affection for Italian wines, crafts this light white that is wonderfully expressive, unlike the grape’s reputation of serene dullness this stuff is magic and vivid from start to finish, with air it adds a touch of texture, but stays refined, vibrant and virtually weightless, even though it clear has extract, in fact it feeling like a dry Resling in it’s energy, which to me is proof of awesomeness. According to Paul, the briskly dry Pinot Bianco (given the nomer “Giovanni”) is fermented in stainless steel, typically in three different lots with appropriate aromatic yeasts, and bottled in its exuberant youth in the early Spring, it’s also very low alcohol, coming in at just 11.7%.. It’s perfect for Summer with it’s refreshing juicy acidity adding a cool and crisp sensation, drink up.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

2016 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Oh, wow, this 2016 Cameron Ribbon Ridge is something else, it has a crazy first impression that goes between a Joguet Chinon (Loire Cab Franc) and an old Beaucastel Chateauneuf! That quickly ducks away and a pure Nuits-Saint-Georges like Pinot Noir comes through, it is somewhere between Domaine(s) Maume and Chevillon in reference, in other words it’s an intense Oregon Pinot from John Paul at Cameron Winery with loads of dark blooding fruits, mineral tones and a leathery/earthy charm. A hint of brett just adds to the old world seduction in this way over delivering wine that comes off Alan Foster’s Ribbon Ridge vineyard site, plus Armstrong Vineyard, with it’s vineyard that was recently converted to dry-farmed grapes, these are set on the AVA’s unique Willakenzie soils, formed by ancient marine sediments as well as some gravelly loams. Both this Ribbon Ridge AVA and the Dundee Hills AVA are both native yeast ferments with the wines aged for nearly 2 years (between 18-24 months as per normal here at Cameron) in a mixture of French oak barrels varying from new to completely neutral and bottled without filtration or fining, pretty classic Burgundy style winemaking as is John Paul’s way of things. Layers of black cherry, racy currants, plum and dusty blackberry fruits dominate the palate along with rose petals, meaty notes, exotically earthy dried porcini, minty anise, cedar and a hint of balsamic as well as bright acidity and a firm frame as you’d expect in a young Cameron Pinot. With more time and air you find wild strawberry, lavender and kirsch, but to get your kicks and the best rewards you’ll want to have plenty of food with this one, duck confit or breast, or game hen would be excellent choices, otherwise robust cuisine options would be preferable. This is another killer value from a top Willamette producer, drink over the next 5 to 10 years, even in this ripe vintage this wine shows focus and at 13.5% natural alcohol it does not lack for balance or complexity, I love it.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

2015 Bow & Arrow, Pinot Noir, Hughes Hollow Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The rather exotic Hughes Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir from Bow & Arrow is amazing stuff, it at first is tight and iron laced that in a way reminds me of young Nebbiolo, but a few swirls brings an exciting array of classic Pinot aromas and flavors out and with further coaxing in the glass a powerful sensation that you are tasting something other worldly. Scott Frank, winemaker at Bow & Arrow, has done some thrilling wines from this unique north facing 30 year old site, and this 2015 is impressive. Hughes Hollow Vineyard, located in the South Salem hills, on Jory and Nekia soils at about 675 feet up, now farmed all organic was a place Frank wanted Gamay from, but had to take Pinot grapes as part of the deal, and mercy be, what deal it has turned out to be, especially as at first it wasn’t even given a name! This vineyard, fast becoming a favorite of mine in Bow & Arrow’s lineup, has it’s own personality, the vines here are own rooted and have been dry farmed from the beginning which adds to the intensity of form and with a vintage like 2015, ripe flavors, a savory bite and crisp acidity dominate. It bursts from the glass marked with the volcanic mineral and spice along with dried roses, tangy strawberries and minty herbs (stems?) before gathering it’s forces for a medium bodied, but powerful palate of black cherry, plum and briar laced raspberry along with cinnamon, black tea, earthy leather/porcini and lavendery incense. This is a gripping Pinot, with a firm structure with young Vougeot like tannins and the length is heavenly and long adding the vintage’s sweetness that offsets the rustic nature of this unpolished wine, this really sexy stuff, drink over the next 3 to 7 years.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 11, 2018

2012 Caprili, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
The 2012 Caprili Brunello is a full bodied and densely pack wine with complex layers and ripe tannins, it’s just hitting it’s stride and should go another decade or two no problem, impressive for it’s palate impact and near perfect expression of terroir and varietal character, it is as pure as it gets. Caprili, run by Giacomo Bartolommei, and farmed organically, is an under the radar Brunello estate in the southwestern sector of the Montalcino zone, close to Tavernelle. It’s in a prime spot of Montalcino, established in 1965 when they split off from the famous Pieve Santa Restituta estate, it sits next to Pieve Santa Restituta and adjacent to Soldera, so you known they are in top notch company. Caprili has perfect exposure, south-southeast at between 225-340 meters in elevation, with soils that is a touch more sandy than in other parts of Montalcino, and influenced by the cooling breezes from the sea to their west, all of which shows in the wines elegance and aromatic charms, especially in this beautiful 2012 Brunello that displays a heightened sensation of fruit and a sensual mouth feel. Caprili works traditionally and naturally in the cellar, with a minimalist approach to winemaking, the Brunello sees fermentation in stainless steel using native yeasts, that takes about 7 to 8 days, that is followed by a lengthy maceration, then aged large neutral casks for 3 years before bottling, released 5 years from harvest. Layered and dense this 2012, 100% Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello Clone) delivers a full force of flavors with dried cherry, raspberry, tangy currant and racy plum fruits along with savory earth, tobacco leaf, cedar, a hint of tar, balsamic/strawberry and incense/floral tones, adding mineral and anise as you swirl this dark garnet hued Brunello in the glass, it’s a pure velvety Sangiovese wine that has a core of Tuscan warmth, with a rich texture and subtle rustic charms, with everything in harmony, with everything as it should be. It’s surprisingly great even now, but should prove a rewarding wine for the longer term as well, best from 2020 to 2030. As a side note, if this 2012 is this good, I can’t wait for the much more heralded 2013!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 10, 2018

2016 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Scheurebe Trocken, Haardter Mandelring, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany.
Mueller-Catoir, run by the ninth generation vintner Philipp David Catoir is one of Germany’s finest estates in the Pfalz and has a world wide following for their stylish and intriguing wines, especially their Riesling, but they also do one of the best dry Muscats (Muskateller) you’ll ever want to taste, Rieslaner (no not related to Riesling!) and this amazing dry, but exotic Scheurebe from their Premier Cru Haardter Mandelring parcel. Known for the precision and clarity of focus in their wines, the estate, under the talented hands of Martin Franzen, a Mosel native that made name for himself while at the famous Schlossgut Diel before Caroline Diel took the reins there, (he) implements a very gentle crush, with a long skin contact, employing a slow gentle pressing, and then ferments and ages mostly in stainless steel. The wine is racked only once and very late, adding to the soul and character to these crystalline and transparent wines of outstanding class and density (dry extract) highlighting the mainly sandstone soils of the all organically farmed Haardt vineyard. Scheurebe, also know as Samling 88 or just Samling was created in 1916 by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu, when he was trying to make a better version of Silvaner, it was long thought it was a cross between Riesling and Silvaner, but DNA testing has made it clear Silvaner was not it’s parent grape, so it is believed to be a cross of Riesling and Bukettraube (Bouquet Blanc) and was finally released to general cultivation after Scheu’s death in the year 1956, in his honor it was officially called Scheu(rebe) (Rebe means Vine in German) and Samling 88 (serial number used by Scheu lab for the plant created) dropped in Germany, though still used in Austria. The wines are highly aromatic, and the variety is often used for sweet wines, although dry Scheurebe wines have become much more common in Germany with two of my favorites being Kruger-Rumpf’s expressive and wonderfully lush and tropical version from the Nahe and this Mueller-Catoir, which is typically a leaner crisper example, though as famous importer Terry Theise says of Scheurebe, it is “…kinky but just not blatant.” Think of Scheurebe as Riesling meets Viognier (as in minerally Condrieu) in some ways, it’s less severe than Riesling, but less fleshy than Viognier, but with the heightened perfume of white flowers, it blows away about 90% of Sauvignon Blancs out there, serving same purpose and fills the gap between Riesling and Chardonnay, though still a curious rarity in the white wine world! The 2016 Mueller-Catoir Scheurebe Trocken Mandelring is a zero botrytis vintage, which adds to the fresh detail and dry finesse, this is hyper focused stuff from Franzen and team, it’s stunningly expressive on the nose with jasmine, orange blossoms and honeysuckle giving a springtime of aromatic heaven before leading to a lithe and fresh, almost tangy brisk middle weighted palate of white peach, kumquat, key lime, tart mango and a flow of zesty citrus fruits along with lemon grass, minty/fennel bitters, candied pineapple and apricot pit. There’s a chalky wet stone element and plenty of mineral to explore here along with a touch spicy crystalized ginger that lingers in this well judged and executed Scheurebe, it’s a lovely companion for Asian cuisine
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 9, 2018

2017 Chateau Peyrassol, Rosé, Cuvee La Commanderie de Peyrassol, Cotes de Provence, France.
Commanderie de Peyrassol, founded by the Knights Templar who were dedicated to protecting the Crusaders on way to and back from the wars, with their first recorded harvest taking place back in 1256, and the winemaking has continued uninterrupted throughout that history to now. The Winery has been owned by an array of historical figures as well as the Knights of Malta and then the state after the French Revolution with the Rigord family buying the estate in 1870 and making it a successful winery, but it’s current reputation for quality took off when Philippe Austruy bought Commanderie and put his nephew in charge, rebranding the property as Chateau Peyrassol. Chateau Peyrassol is located in the hills of the “arriére pays” (back country) near Var, just north of St. Tropez and Hyères, in between the villages of Le Luc and Flassans-sur-Issole in the heart of Provence set on the classic rocky terroir with clay and limestone soils. The property makes some big and powerful reds with Syrah and Cabernet grapes, but it’s their Mediterranean kissed Rosé that always appeals and is their most popular wine made from mostly Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, though they can have a touch of Tibouren, the ancient Provencale native grape. This beautiful and crisply dry Rosé by Peyrassol was crafted with the direct press method, allowing for the delicate light color, then the grapes undergo a cold maceration before being pressed off, this fermentation takes place in stainless steel with cooling jackets (temperature controlled) and it is exceptionally long, resulting in a Rosé that is both fresh and persistent. Bright and vigorous the 2017 version is medium bodied and lengthy while still being delicately detailed and wonderfully focused with tangy cherry, strawberry and watermelon layers on the palate along with lively acidity, citrus, mineral notes and rosewater. This is a perfect Rosé for any occasion, fun, but serious with lots of Provence character and class, and at almost half the price of Tempier these days, it offers some value for it’s quality, drink up.
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 8, 2018

2016 Yves Cuilleron, Condrieu “La Petite Cote” Northern Rhone, France.
The 2016 whites from Yves Cuilleron are just spectacular with his lieu-dit Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage blancs really impressing me, but you can’t miss his Condrieu La Petite Cote 2016, this is just as good as it gets for Viognier and a wine of such inner and out beauty it’s almost ridiculous how good it is at this stage! To say this wine has perfume is silly (as an understatement), but it’s the complexity and textural pleasure that stands out even more with a exceptional mineral core that keeps your attention peaked and focused throughout. Beautiful detailing and fine balance grace this gorgeous Condrieu and remind you why this place is Viognier’s holy grail, there’s nothing close to a flaw to be found here, it’s really close to perfection with a heavenly weightless quality, which is lovely for a ripe 14% wine, while still showing opulent substance, it’s a beguiling white of amazing class and terroir character. The layers of the 2016 La Petite Cote come in a stylish cascade of layers with a rush of honeysuckle, liquid mineral, crushed stones, apricot and white licorice/fennel leading the way on the smooth refined palate that is almost like clarified cream without being heavy, it possesses graceful leesy mouth feel and glycerin, but has energy and vigor as well with steely crisp integrity throughout. A subtle tropical note along with a touch of flinty spice and saline elements add to the whole as well as vitality, through some fine citrus notes add lift. This is as pure as it gets, I was completely seduced by this beauty, words do not begin to due it justice, it’s a wine you need to experience yourself, make it happen, it will certainly reward you. Cuilleron is making some of the greatest wines of his career, both red and white, especially in these last two vintages, and this Condrieu is one of his most exotic to date, the vineyards for this Viognier are planted on terraces with a warm south-southeast exposure , near Chavanay, on muscovite-rich granite soils, Yves barrel-fermented and barrel aged the La Petite Cote with indigenous yeasts and sur lie elevage for nine months with regular batonnage (lees stirring) which adds to the lush decadence and presence in the glass.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 7, 2018

2016 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Oh, wow, this very dark 2016 Cameron Ribbon Ridge Pinot is really something else, it has a crazy first impression that goes between a Joguet Chinon (Loire Cab Franc) and an old Beaucastel Chateauneuf! That quickly ducks away and a pure Nuits-Saint-Georges like Pinot Noir comes through, it is somewhere between Domaine(s) Maume and Chevillon for a reference point, in other words it’s an intense Oregon Pinot from John Paul at Cameron Winery with loads of dark blooding fruits, mineral tones and a leathery/earthy charm. A hint of brett? A touch of animal just adds to the old world seduction in this way over delivering wine that comes off Alan Foster’s Ribbon Ridge vineyard site, plus Armstrong Vineyard, with it’s vineyard that was recently converted to dry-farmed grapes, these are set on the AVA’s unique Willakenzie soils, formed by ancient marine sediments as well as some gravelly loams. Both this Ribbon Ridge AVA and the Dundee Hills AVA are both native yeast ferments with the wines aged for nearly 2 years (between 18-24 months as per normal here at Cameron) in a mixture of French oak barrels varying from new to completely neutral and bottled without filtration or finning, pretty classic Burgundy style winemaking as is John Paul’s way of things. Layers of black cherry, racy currants, plum and dusty blackberry fruits dominate the palate along with rose petals, dried acacia flowers, meaty notes, exotically earthy dried porcini, minty anise, cedar and a hint of balsamic as well as bright acidity and a firm frame as you’d expect in a young Cameron Pinot. With more time and air you find wild strawberry, lavender and kirsch, but to get your kicks and the best rewards you’ll want to have plenty of food with this one, duck confit or breast, or game hen would be excellent choices, otherwise robust cuisine options would be preferable. This is another killer value from a top Willamette producer, drink over the next 5 to 10 years, even in this ripe vintage this wine shows focus and at 13.5% natural alcohol it does not lack for balance or complexity, I love it.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 6, 2018

2017 Weingut Friedrich Becker, Petit Rose, Pfalz Germany.
One of Germany’s best known Pinot Noir producers, Weingut Friedrich Becker, in the Pfalz crafts some beautiful and detailed wines in this unique terroir, these are wines that, especially their Pinots that have Burgundy like class and character. The winery is run by the Becker family, Friedrich Becker Senior and Junior, and have Gerard Paul, an Alsatian as their general manager as well as Sandrine Eichenlaub in vineyard and cellar along with Daniel Scheib, it’s tight team and the wines speak for themselves, and as someones that has tasted these wines on many occasions, as well as their collaboration projects, like they have with Johannes Leitz, you can’t help but be impressed. So it was with great enthusiasm I got to try their new dry Rose, which is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Portugieser, the later being an old varietal that did not come from Portugal, but the Danube valley, as in Austria where it is known as Blauer Portugieser and used mostly in blends, and commonly found and used in light fruity red wines in Southern Germany, especially in the Pfalz. While nicely dry, the latest Becker Petit Rose is uniquely fruity and refreshing with bing cherry, strawberry, red citrus and pomegranate notes along with a light texture and soft acidity as well as a hint of peach flesh and a mineral element. Best served really chilled to get the best out of this fun little pink, while not overly complex or serious it offers lots of pleasure and will be great on warm Summer days.
($20 Est.) 87-89 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 5, 2018

2017 Diatom, Chardonnay “Santos Road” 3-D Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
The Greg Brewer made, single clone Diatom, Chardonnay “Santos Road” known as the Hyde clone, is sourced from a tiny unique sandy parcel within Brewer-Clifton’s 3D Vineyard along Santos Road. Brewer is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir specialist, known for his work at Brewer-Clifton (with Steve Clifton, who has since left BC and gone on to make some wonderful wines with his own  La Voix label) and Melville, and when the history of California Chardonnay is written Greg Brewer is going to be on the first page among the greats including Hanzell, Swan, Chalone, Kistler, Littorai and Aubert to name a few, anyone who had his mind-blowing early years Brewer-Clifton’s like their 2000 Mt. Carmel Vineyard or their later Sweeney Canyon(s) with understand! As with all of Brewer’s Diatom Chards, the fermentation done at very low temperatures using only small stainless steel tanks, with special yeasts and no malo-lactic, with exceptionally short hose travel to ensure precision and focus, they are Inox wines, made without any oak at all. When you taste Diatom, in my opinion, you get a tour of the zen like focus of Brewer’s mind, these are laser precision wines that channel the inner purity of Chardonnay down to it’s core essences, they are unlike any other Chardonnays you are likely to find and have a cult like following. The hyper clear transparency and crisp detail of this new Diatom Santos Road Chardonnay is amazing, it starts with white blossoms, almost tropically floral, and it’s almost Sauvignon Blanc like with lively citrus notes, delivering an electric shock of lemon/lime, grapefruit and tangerine, before slowly revealing Asian pear, kiwi and green apple flavors on the tangy medium bodied palate, along with Chablis like chalky stones, mineral steeliness, saline and refined acidity. As it warms in the glass things unfold and surprising texture emerges, adding a melon fleshiness with subtle ripe notes, but it’s 14.5% alcohol not showing in any obvious way, and it always stays vividly lifted and bright. I chose to pop the cork on this Santos Road first of these five new releases from Diatom and In can’t wait to try the rest of the set, especially with fresh sushi, these are fascinating wines that always impress, don’t let these get away.
($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

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