Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2021

2019 Domaine M. et C. Lapierre, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The 2019 regular Morgon cuvée, also known as the “S”, with a low dose of sulfur added for stabilization and shipping is wildly fragrant and vibrantly fresh in the glass with loads of whole-cluster crunchiness and tangy acidity that lifts the ripe red fruits on the medium bodied palate, making it a bit more classic or racy than some of the more opulent vintages of late, though it is still wonderfully pleasing and a treat to drink. The Lapierre Morgon lifts from the glass with an intense floral dimension that is accented by the spicy stem influence and the mouth is full of pop with layers of black cherry, wild plum, pomegranate and brambly raspberry fruits along with a hint of walnut, snappy herbs, hot cinnamon, anise, loamy earth and crushed flowers. This vintage stays light on its feet throughout, it is exceptionally pure Gamay, and has plenty of zip, salinity and minerality to remind of its granite based soils, but the finish proves excellent and lingering with echos from the nose and palate. The Lapierre wines are highly sought after, and for good reason, making them treats for their fans, which I must admit to being and I can hardly imagine being without bottles of their Morgon around and they are bottles I feverishly enjoy, especially with special friends and or the season’s holiday meals. I’m looking forward to exploring , the soon to be available here, 2020 vintage offering too, with a peaked interest in the Morgon sans soufre or “N” bottling, cuvée Camille and the Marcel Lapierre cuvée!

The Lapierre’s do 100% whole-cluster and native yeast fermentation, or as importer Kermit Lynch says, methode à l’ancienne, which is done in mostly conical wood vats, maintained at low temperatures and with a maceration period that lasts for between ten to twenty days. The Lapierre’s wines, including this one, are aged on their fine lees for at least nine months in old Burgundy barrels, that Kermit adds are very neutral, allowing for the wines nature to shine through, with the oak being third to thirteenth passages or fills and bottled unfiltered. These practices have not changed at this estate, now being run by the late legendary Marcel Lapierre’s son and daughter, Matthieu and Camille who have done a tremendous job of living under the weight of such expectations, in fact the wines if anything have got even better. In the vineyards, they work all by hand and each of their sites are certified organic, preferring late picking to ensure fabulous ripeness, concentration, depth and textural quality in their wines. This bottling comes from 60 year old Morgon cru parcels set on gravelly slopes with pure granite soils that this famous terroir is known for and gives these wines their class and personality. This 2019 is one to enjoy with food, served slightly chilled, to cut into its natural acidity, in particular it seems well suited to go with duck confit and or pork dishes, though traditional Gamay lovers with be excited to have it with thanksgiving turkey with all the usual array of side dishes.
($39 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2021

2019 Turley Wine Cellars, Petite Sirah, Pesenti Vineyard, Paso Robles.
The 2019 Turley Pesenti Petite Sirah is beautifully crafted stuff with an inky black/purple color and deep layers of blackberry, blueberry compote, plum and black currant fruits with hints of violets, acacia, crushed stones, sandalwood, mocha and dusty spices. Even though it is a young and powerful wine at this stage, it thrills with a luxurious full bodied palate with opulent ripe tannins and fresh juiciness, making for a wine that impresses and is surprisingly harmonious even without decanting, in fact it was delicious right after popping the cork and even better when paired with hearty cuisine. Made by Tegan Passalacqua and Karl Wicka, Turley’s Paso Robles winemaker, this 2019 displays the year’s cooler vintage exceptionally well with its fine detail and balance, and it should continue to develop nicely for the next decade. This Pesenti Petite Sirah, fermented using native yeasts and mostly used barrels, about 80% French, 20% American and aged about 18 months, opens up and feels texturally lush, while still vigorous and it lingers on and on with every lasting echos of cassis, a touch of pepper and floral elements. While of course you look to Turley for their sumptuous Zins, this Petite and their Grenache are best not overlooked, as they are outstanding as well, I can’t wait to visit the Paso tasting room again soon, where I usually find some interesting rarities and able to stock up on the basic Old Vine Zinfandel and or the bargain priced Juvenile Zin that is sourced from 27 young vine, but pedigreed sites, including Hayne, Pesenti, Salvador, Vineyard 101, Fredericks, and Kirschenmann.

Turley Wine Cellars was founded, as the winery notes, in Napa Valley by former emergency room physician Larry Turley in 1993 with a focus on Zinfandel from top sites throughout the state, including historic vines from St. Helena to Paso Robles, where Turley bought the Pesenti Vineyard and is where this wine comes from. Under the direction of winemaker and vineyard manager Tegan Passalacqua, Turley now makes 50 different wines, all limited small batch offerings, from over 50 vineyards, as Turley adds, across California, which are primarily Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, with many of these vines dating back to the late 1800s. The Turley owned and farmed Pesenti Vineyard, set on the westside’s limestone based soils, is an estate-owned and certified organic vineyard, which saw its Petite Sirah planted by the Turley team using cuttings from the famous Hayne Vineyard in Napa Valley. The Petite Sirah is all head-trained and dry-farmed, which gives this wine its character and concentration, making for an inky dark, chocolatey, densely packed example of this grape, which is also known as Durif. As these Petite Sirah vines age and get more mature the wines are becoming more distinct and are expressing the terroir of the Pesenti Vineyard, giving loads of ripe fruit, with a background of minerality and savory spices, as this wine clearly shows. There’s so much to admire in Turley’s lineup, but a few standouts come to mind, besides this goodie, like their Judge Bell Zin from Amador County and the Bechthold Vineyard Lodi Cinsault, one of my favorites, and the Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel.
($38-49 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2021

2019 Fabio Oberto, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
This fresh and surprisingly fruit dense all organic Langhe Nebbiolo is a tasty and guilt free with a charming palate of macerated black cherries, plum and earthy currant fruits and snappy herbs, saline, loam along with lingering florals and black licorice. Obviously not as deep or as complex as a Barolo, but a wine that does not disappoint and delivers plenty of varietal character, making for a nice wine to have a casual meal with, considering the price, it is worth grabbing a case to enjoy for the next 3 to 5 years. I have had the wines of Oberto before, but I have not had any of the offerings from Fabio before and I was happily impressed with this new release. This dark ruby and garnet hued wine was even better when it was joined by food, especially grilled steak and hard cheeses, it complimented each bite and added a riper sense of fruit in the mouth and a touch more rose petal, though still showing a bit of umami, grilled orange and good natural acidity, keeping things energetic and balanced. It is good times for Nebbiolo lovers with an exceptional range of quality versions from Piedmonte from tasty bargain wines, like this one to stellar single cru bottlings that absolutely deserve a spot in the top cellars.

The Oberto family started producing under their own label in 1978, and after 22 years working with his father, Andrea, Fabio Oberto has set out on his own and now bottles small production wines with winemaker Sergio Molino under the Fabio Oberto “La Collina di Dioniso” label from sustainable, and mostly organic, vineyard sites the family owns with a focus on Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, including a full DOCG Barolo from Alba’s La Morra sub region. The Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, 100% Nebbiolo, is grown in La Morra’s Barolo zone with southeast exposures and the classic clay-limestone soils. The Nebbiolo grape clusters are all hand-picked and after rigorous selections are quickly brought to the cellar within a few hours at most for de-stemming and crushing, then the must is fermented with frequent but gentle pumpovers for good extraction and depth of flavors. The grapes see an about eight days maceration period on the skins, after which the wine goes to steel tanks for spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Fabio’s Langhe Nebbiolo ages 6 months in a combination of used oak barrels and partly in stainless steel tanks, plus another two months in bottle before leaving the winery. Everything is done to make this medium bodied little Nebbiolo as pleasing and easy to love upon release, and Fabio has succeeded in this vintage, making a delightful and value packed wine to enjoy in its youth.
($24 ESt.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2020

2020 Jolie-Laide, Red Wine, Trousseau Noir/Cabernet Pfeffer/Gamay, California.
Scott Schultz’s latest California Red Blend is made from an interesting combination of grapes, including Trousseau Noir, Cabernet Pfeffer and Gamay from a diverse array of vineyard sites through out the state and made in a natural semi carbonic way, making it a delightfully fun quaffer with racy red fruits on the medium bodied palate that is in particular great with rustic and or simple cuisine. This vibrant and slightly cloudy unfiltered red enjoys being served slightly chilled and excels with a meal, I had it with a spicy pasta dish that had a good dose of hot Calabrian peppers in it and this Jolie-Laide red provided a refreshing juiciness and pleasure. With air this wine gains a pretty array of fruit, including sweet and sour cherry, red currant, pomegranate and tree picked plum as well as hints of earth, minty herbs, blood orange, cinnamon(y) spices, dried tobacco leaf and a potpourri note. The red fruits are ripe, but there is good tart burst of natural acidity that reminds me of some of wines from the Cheverny region in the Loire Valley that are typically made with Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis, Cot (Malbec) and Pinot Noir or a red blend from the Jura, where you find Trousseau blended with Poulsard, Pinot Noir and even some Gamay as well. The Jolie-Laide wines are made with lots of whole-cluster, native yeasts and are generally aged in neutral French oak and with some in concrete tank, with everything done to promote purity and transparency, most all the grapes are from family owned vineyards that are farmed using holistic and or full organic methods.

Jolie-Laide is a small lot Sebastopol winery where the talented winemaker Scott Schultz, who also works at Pax, makes only around 500 cases of wine a year. Every year Jolie-Laide’s offerings get more and more exciting with some cool hand crafted stuff, like this uniquely Californian red blend and a pair of world class Syrahs, one from my favorite Halcon Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands. The name Jolie-Laide, which loosely translates to “Pretty-Ugly”, a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful, very fitting to Scott’s delicious collection of wines. Scott, who moved to California in 2007 to be closer to his passion of wine has put some quality time in at Ryme Cellars and Arnot-Roberts, along with the mentioned Pax Cellars getting tons of experience, which has paid off in his own efforts, especially giving him access to great vineyard sites and some rare varieties of grapes, like Trousseau, Trousseau Gris, Gamay, Melon de Bourgogne and Cabernet Pfeffer. For those that have not had or even heard of Cabernet Pfeffer, it is also known as Mourtaou, and was thought to be a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and maybe Trousseau, though still a mysterious grape variety that is planted in tiny quantities in California, mainly in the remote area of San Benito County, where Schultz sourced this from. Interestingly Cabernet Pfeffer is sometimes confused with the nearly extinct Bordeaux variety of Gros Verdot, which is similar in appearance, but not related, though found also in San Benito too. The Jolie-Laide wines sell out fast, so it is best to get on the mailing list to secure these limited offerings.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2021

2019 Clos de la Barthassade, Les Gravettes, Terrasses du Larzac, Languedoc-Roussillon, France.
New to me, the Clos de la Barthassade wines, made by Guillaume and Helene Baron, are getting a lot of attention and I wanted to give them a try, especially this Les Gravettes red blend of organically grown Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, which impressed me with its deep perfume and complexity of flavors. Made using a combination of concrete eggs, temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks and old barrels in the cellar the Baron’s wines are precise and textural, they ferment each lot separately with native yeasts and the wines are moved only by gravity flow, as to be as gentle as possible. It should be stated, great talent spotters, Martine’s Wines, known for finding rare gems, is the exclusive importer for Clos de la Barthassade for the United States market and done fabulous job of creating a buzz for this tiny production label, while still offering them at reasonable prices. The generally red soils here have a mix of shale or calcareous clay which have an overlay of pebbles. The climate here is Mediterranean with lots of sunny days and the wines here have a ripe warmth to them. This Les Gravettes is exciting stuff, it’s made with lots of whole cluster, its ripe and inky in the glass, but full of energy and a contrasting savory crunch, with crushed violets, wild herbs, graphite and cassis on the nose in a full bodied almost Gigondas like wine, reminding me somewhat of Chateau de Saint Cosme. In the mouth there’s loads of hedonism with dark berries, damson plum, kirsch and coulis with earthy and peppery accents as well as dried lavender, sage, cinnamon and briar notes. This wine way over performs at the price and I am really excited to try the Baron’s other bottlings, the “Pur C” a single varietal Cinsault and the K Libre, the 100% Carignan!

The husband and wife team of Guillaume and Helene Baron both graduated from their viticultural studies and then put their time in at some highly acclaimed domaines in France before seeking out their own piece of land to explore their talents, and being fresh and youthful needed to find an affordable region to settle in, which turned out to be in the wild and remote L’ Herault area of the Languedoc-Roussillon. The Winery is in the Terrasses du Larzac, which is about 45 minutes northwest of Montpellier, where the Baron’s are cultivating their unique parcels with biodynamic practices, with a focus on Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, as well as Carignan that they make into a special single varietal wine. The rugged, dry, windy lands are home to many legendary producers, like the Guilbert family’s famous Mas de Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères . The Barons acquired 25 acres of vineyards land and produced their first vintage in 2014, which has a sensation and now these Clos de la Barthassade wines are highly sought after. Guillaume notes that their Syrah and Grenache come from distinct parcels in the Combariolles zone, where he says the nights are cold and the soils are intensely rocky, producing highly perfumed, almost Côte-Rôtie-like, wines. The Baron’s Cinsault, Carignan and some smaller blocks of Grenache are grown in Montpeyroux, that they consider one of the finest terroirs, called La Barthassade, where their name comes from. Here, they note, the sun-drenched terraces vines get more moisture, along with more heat, allowing the grapes to reach perfect maturity with just the right amount of stress to provide depth and concentration. This is definitely a winery to watch and this 2019 vintage is awesome, I highly recommend this tasty Les Gravettes, it is a wine that gets better with food, so enjoy it with a meal.
($29 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2021

2018 Domaine Testut, Chablis Premier Cru, Montée de Tonnerre, White Burgundy, France.
The Montée de Tonnerre vineyard just might be my favorite Chablis site and I love the wines from here, it is a special place for this grape, set on classic limestone from the Kimmeridgien era, making for a mineral laced and stony terroir driven Chardonnay, with this 2018 Testut version being an absolutely thrilling example with a cool steely eyed personality and fabulous purity. Coming from a sélection massale of 60 year old vines on a southeast facing slope on the region’s chalky fossilized calcarious soils. The riveting Testut Montée de Tonnerre shows a confident subtly in the glass with an ultra pale greenish/gold hue and a crisply detailed medium bodied palate with lime, orchard stone fruits, quince and mouth watering saline infused wet rock, delicate clove spice, oyster shell and white flowers. There’s a nice tension and energy flowing through this Chardonnay and it gains elegant roundness and textural charm with air, it almost perfectly captures the year and place with a quiet depth and complexity, making for a very appealing Chablis that shines with cuisine, in particular this wine goes great with Sushi and or fresh crab dishes.

Cyril Testut has presided over the family estate since 1998, so he’s been doing it while now, and is a star that is finally getting the recognition he deserves, especially when you taste his Premier Crus, like this chiseled stony beauty.The Testut domaine was originally established by his father Philippe Testut back in 1967, and the Testut family has 13 hectares of prime vineyards, which date back hundreds of years and were previsouly owned by Cistercian agronomist monks, all are located in the historic heart of the Chablis and its limestone fan shell. It’s a serious selection of Grand Cru and Premier vines, mostly of which sit between the Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre, where this wine comes from, and the Grand Cru Blanchots, not too shabby. Those that like the domaines of Patrick Puize, Savary and Christophe will instantly recognize the style and quality in these Testut wines, and even those that are lucky enough to enjoy the greats, like Raveneau and Dauvissat will no doubt be impressed by Cyril’s excellent set of wines. This Montée de Tonnerre was fermented and aged in stainless steel tank in the Inox method with this wine seeing an elevage close to 18 months with lees. Testut is still a rarity in the States, but can be found with a little effort, which I highly recommend doing, the two bottlings I have reviewed have been outstanding!
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2021

2018 Inama, Vigneti di Foscarino, Soave Classico DOC, Veneto, Italy.
The crisp and mineral laced single cru Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico is a beauty, it highlights this vineyard’s cooler exposure and explores the purity of the Garganega grape, as it does not contain any of the lesser varietals, showing a pretty floral dimension and round stone fruit and racy citrus. This fabulous example of modern Soave is the result of Inama’s vision and realization of the potential here, with Giuseppe Inama making some shrewd moves in the 1960s to purchase some exceptional plots that have now really paid great rewards, their potential is right here in the bottle, with the wines now being made under the direction of his son Stefano, who took over the winemaking duties in 1992 and his son Matteo more recently have raised the quality levels to world class status. Giuseppe Inama began buying up small vineyard plots on this peak, where this wine comes from, in the heart of the Soave Classico zone, and as a result, the Inama winery today owns most of the vineyards on Mount Foscarino, the ancient dormant volcano that influences the wines of this region with the volcanic soils playing a big part of the expressive nature in these Soave wines. The Vegneti di Foscarino has a lot to admire with layers of lemon/lime, peach and quince fruits on the taut medium bodied palate that harmonizes the zesty and leesy textural elements and still allows for an exciting tension to build in this brilliant crystalline white, that goes awesome with soft cheeses, briny sea foods and lighter creamy pasta dishes. The Vigneti di Foscarino is east facing, catching the morning sun but avoiding the afternoon heat, it sits about 250 meters above sea level and is mainly vines that are in the 50 year old range and farmed in the traditional pergola style, and though not certified, the Inama’s use holistic organic methods to farm this vineyard to achieve the best possible ripening and quality.

As mentioned recently here, the Inama winery is now on their third generation, it was founded in 1967, and are one of Italy’s finest small family owned wineries with an amazing array of vineyard sites in the Veneto region and well known for their stunning examples of single vineyard Soave wines. It all started In the 1960s, when Giuseppe Inama began buying up small plots on best hillsides in the heart of the Soave Classico zone, and as a result, the Inama winery has some of the most distinct wines in the region, which is seeing a renaissance these days. Inama’s two cru Soave offerings, Carbonare and this Foscarino, with both really showcase their different terroir influences and are fantastic white wine values, it is wines like these and those of Pieropan that have brought renewed attention to this ancient region and the Garganega grape, which is just starting to show its potential in modern times. The walled city of Soave, a place I have on my list to visit, is in the Veneto region, and it has long been a source of quality and well priced white wines. The town dates back to Roman times, who solidified the area’s winemaking tradition in this sleepy and picturesque area not far from Venice and Lake Garda. The Romans, it is well noted locally, were big fans of these minerally fresh and dry floral wines like found here in Soave. The Garganega grape, is main attraction and the most noble of white grapes here and the mainstay in the DOC bottlings, like this one, it has for centuries produced the best Soave wines and come mainly from vineyards in the hills that rise up behind the town of Soave itself. The Foscarino is 100% Garganega, all organically grown, is fermented in stainless then raised in small barriques, where it goes through full malo-lactic conversion and sees batonage (lees stirring) every six weeks for 6 months before it is returned to tank to settle for another six months before bottling. Inama’s latest releases are outstanding from their unique Carmenere and Cabernet reds to their set of Soave(s), I was very impressed with them and highly recommend exploring them.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2021

2018 La Fiorita, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy.
The 2018 Rosso di Montalcino is a pure Sangiovese that is wonderfully aromatic, deep in color and nicely detailed with a classic array of dark fruit, spice, a light sense of earth and just the right amount of savoriness, all making it finely balanced and compelling in the glass. Fattoria La Fiorita lies on the southeast facing slope within the Montalcino zone and has three distinct vineyards, Poggio al Sole, Pian Bossolino and Il Giardinello to draw top quality and ripe fruit from to make their top Brunello offerings, as well as this baby Brunello (Rosso) that really stands out for value. The 2018 Rosso shows blackberry, plum, black cherry and strawberry fruits, which are accented by sweet floral notes, cigar wrapper, anise, cedar and dried herbs along with a touch of chalky mineral, with a full bodied texture, supple tannins and a youthful burst of natural acidity. This vintage saw a care grape selection and was fermented in Slavonian wood fermentors with a maceration period of about 18 days and then put into second use French oak cask, where the Rosso rested for about 10 months, then moved to stainless for an additional 4 or so months before bottling, a regime that allows for early drinking pleasure, as this wine proves. The Rosso di Montalcino DOC comes of all organic Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello clone) vines that are set on Tufo and galestro soils, comprised of clay and limestone that has a sandy topsoil that helps give this bottling its class and character, it is a wine that certainly speaks of place and wonderful with rustic cuisine, especially wild mushroom dishes, grilled meats and or hard sleep cheeses.

La Fiorita gained a lot of notoriety in 2011 when adult film actress and wine fanatic, Natalie Oliveros, joined forces with Roberto Cipresso, one of Montalcino’s top winemakers who had founded this label back in 1992, and has helped raise the game, now with Vincenzo Pirrone as winemaker, putting La Fiorita in the upper echelon of producers. Natalie Oliveros confidently took over the Estate, and she pushed the shift towards organic viticulture here and in 2014 she planted her Giardinello site, which is showing a lot of promise, as well as adding a forth vineyard, then she turned her attention to her cellars which she modernized into an all gravity fed winery. The La Fiorita winemaking is leaning toward a natural and traditional style, the team employs concrete tanks and old wood open top vats for primary fermentation and aged their wines in large Slavonian oak casks to preserve the properties unique terroir influences and personality. Natalie Oliveros born and bred in Northern New York owes a lot of her interest in wine, especially Italian, to her Calabrese “Nonna” grandmother who gave her an education steeped in her family history as well as exposing Natalie to wine and food culture, including making basement wine. Oliveros, formerly known as Savanna Samson, has made a seamless transition into her wine career, with humor and humility, overcoming some serious chauvinistic and prejudice issues with grace and passion, which is something we should admire, it has been a remarkable success story. I tasted through the latest set of wines from La Fiorita, the two Brunellos, both of which were stunning, from the highly acclaimed 2016 vintage, along with this 2018 garnet and ruby edged Rosso, that impressed me almost as much and is far less weighty on the wallet!
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 11, 2021

2018 The Eyrie Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This wine, made by Jason Lett, is a beauty, absolutely spot and epic in every way, it does try to be something it’s not, nor is it flashy, but wow, this is gorgeous Pinot Noir that seduces and captivates you from start to finish and is deepens with time in the glass, opening up with fine detail, perfumed fruit, mineral, spice and a sultry background of earthy elements. I’m not sure what I was expecting, when I pulled this bottle out to share with my mom, and I’m happy to report this Eyrie Estate Dundee Hills Pinot surpassed any hopes I had, in fact after my first sip I could have easily mistaken this Oregon classic for a much more expensive Burgundy, it took me some of my favorite wines of the 1990s, including Henri Gouges’ Nuits-Saint-Georges, though it is a touch more generous and supple in mouth feel and the terroir influence of the Jory soils does finally give it away as an Oregon wine with an array of spice, heightened rose petal aromatics and touch of graphite. The fruit profile unfolds subtly with black cherry, briar laced rad raspberry, wild plum and cranberry along with hints of cinnamon, game, leather, anise, orange tea and woody mushrooms all of which flow harmoniously in the mouth in an impressive seamless fashion. There is a confidence and natural poise to this vintage that brings an added degree of drinking pleasure and this 2018 estate Pinot is at its best with food, with country style meals a perfect match, no fussy cuisine needed.

The Eyrie Vineyards, founded back in 1965, is a legendary pioneer in Oregon Pinot producer with Jason’s dad David Lett being one of the state’s hall of fame winemakers, known for true authentic and natural style wines, something that continues in modern times. The vineyards used are organic and in the cellar, Eyrie is all about transparency and low intervention which means, as Lett notes, minimal racking, extended lees contact, complete and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, no fining, and minimal filtration. The Estate Pinot, as Lett continues, combines Pinot from Eyrie’s five certified-organic estate vineyards that are farmed with holistic methods including regenerative no-till practices, with strict attention paid not just to the vines but to the healthy networks of soil organisms that support them. The grapes were all hand picked and carefully sorted with 100% de-stemming on this wine and it was put into a variety of fermenters, from small one-ton bins to a large 5 ton wooden cuve, to undergo native primary fermentation. After that Jason raises his Estate Pinot for about 18-24 months in mostly neutral French oak with somewhere close to 10% new barriques being employed in any given year. Recently I reviewed The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris and was so impressed I ordered a few bottles, with this one being the one I opened first and one I was thrilled to try, I will break into their Pinot Meunier bottling at some point in the near future. I am really glad I re-discovered these Eyrie wines, they are excellent wines that have hit the spot for me and like Cameron’s wines, keep me intrigued in the Willamette Valley and especially in the wines from the iron rich volcanic soils of the Dundee Hills.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 10, 2021

N.V. Vigna Dorata, Brut Sparkling Wine, Franciacorta DOCG, Lombardy, Italy.
The elegant and luxurious Vigna Dorata Franciacorta D.O.C.G. Brut is made from a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) in the classic Champagne method with close to 24 months of lees aging that gives this sparkling wine its elegance and beautiful layering with hints of toasty brioche and hazelnut that nicely supports the racy and crisp citrus and apple fruit on the medium bodied palate. This is great alternative to pricey grower producer Champagne for any occasion drinking and or celebrations, it is high quality and can be enjoyed with a meal or just as a sipping bubbly. I really enjoyed this latest bottling, it gains complexity in fruit, with citrus, apple and quince coming alive and mineral tones as it opens up and the mousse is very fine and the beading in the glass is energetic, making for a sophisticated and pleasing sparkler. Franciacorta located in the Brescia province, in Lambardy region of Italy and set in the hills immediately south-east of Lake Iseo is renown for exceptional sparkling wines, with great stuff like Ca’ del Bosco and others being stellar examples of what can be made here. The first official Franciacorta sparkling wine was produced here in 1961, but has gained its outstanding reputation in more recent times, especially in the last decade or so. This was my first time sampling Vigna Dorata and I very much enjoyed this Brut, it also held up well with a wide range of appetizers and I can see it going great with festive holiday dinners.

Coming from their family vineyards that were planted in the 1980s, the The Vigna Dorata label came to life and was created in 1995 when the winery’s first bottle with secondary fermentation was produced here in Franciacorta, where some of the best Italian sparkling wines are made in the classic Champagne style and from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The estate is located on an alluvial moraine soils of ancient origin which is extremely sandy with vineyards in the foothills that were formed from glaciers and situated with a good sunny exposure to full ripen the grapes here in the shadow of the Italian Alps. The Vigna Dorata Brut saw soft pressing of whole grapes by a gentle pneumatic press before its first fermentation that, as the winery notes, takes place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperture after the addition of selected yeasts. A low dosage is employed and the Vigna Dorata feels very dry in the mouth, it is a wine that has an ability to appeal to a wide audience with its generous decadence. There plenty of style options in Franciacorta, an area that is home to over 100 wineries that produce sparkling wines in the metodo classico, making them as mentioned, a more affordable alternative to high end French Champagne. Most of the wines here, like these of Vigna Dorata bottlings, are very dry, but there is also the luscious Satèn style, made exclusively in this region, and is comparable to French Crémant with the name paying a tribute to Italian silk, plus there is Zero (no dosage) and Brut Nature as well as Rosé, giving sparkling enthusiasts plenty of choices.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive