2008 Domaine Trimbach, Riesling “Clos Ste Hune” Alsace, France.
Lithe and sexy, the 2008 Clos Ste Hune feels younger and more textured than the 2007, and shows wonderful mineral definition, inner energy and length, truly one of the world’s great wines, especially this vintage with it’s life and classic terror details. With less petrol/diesel the 2008 shines with white fruit intensity, charm and subtle rosewater/perfume, it drives with vigorous acidity, but fills out remarkably on the palate with Grand Cru expansion, showing unripe apricot, peach, lemon/lime, green apple, quince and tangerine layers as well as saline, wet river stones, intriguing earthy/loam and verbena. The mouth feel is gorgeous, you get the same pleasure here as you get from a great Meursault or Grand Cru Chablis, it’s a wine that shows fantastic flexibility and class, it’s presence is undeniable, joyous and has the impact you’d expect from a red wine! The Clos Ste Hune, one of the most unique monopoles in Alsace if not the planet, lovingly crafted by Trimbach, imported by Esprit du Vin and the Taub Family, is one of those wine experiences you search out and are sure not to miss when the chance comes your way, I was so blessed to get this opportunity, big thank you to Terri Penquite of EDV for showing the full lineup of Trimach including this very special wine, but also their impressive Reserve Pinot Gris, Riesling and the alluringly exotic Ribeaupierre Gewürztraminer. Trimbach’s drier style and long cellar life is clearly on display in the current set of wines, in particular this amazing 2008 Clos Ste Hune is like history in the glass. With air it gathers richness, almost leesy creaminess that you find in a white Burgundy, absolutely graceful and regal, wow, super impressive, this is a 20 plus year wine easy, best to age another 12 years if you are lucky enough to have it.
($269 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2015 Clemens Busch, Riesling Kabinett, Punderich, Mosel Germany.
This lightly sweet (fruity) Riesling Kabinett is a brilliant and lovely generous wine from Clemens and Rita Busch at Weingut Clemens Busch in the middle Mosel, a newer generation producer that focuses on estate grown, biodynamic and natural wines from steep plots in the Marienburg lieu-dit. Right on the river and serve, this vineyard area is historic and classic Mosel with mixed slate soils and wonderful exposure allowing for stunning mineralite and rich density, texture and pleasure in feel and taste, most of Busch’s wines are dry, he uses native yeasts whenever possible, no additions, ferments are in huge old German 1,000L oak cask and he only utilizes a tiny dose of sulfur. This is a producer to watch along with Carl Loewen and Knebel in the Mosel, these wineries have raised their game in recent years and are making some fantastic Rieslings. The 2015 vintage Punderich Kabinett from Clemens Busch starts with mild honey, ginger and sea salt followed by a blast of flinty mineral, mango, green apple, white peach and lime sorbet. The mouth feel is medium lush, almost creamy, but with vital acidity and intensity, a hint of an exotic fruit, spice, white cherry and subtle white flowers come through in the background. This is an excellent terroir driven Riesling and a smooth enter into the house style, I also tasted the fabulous GG Falkenlay 2013, a Grand Cru dry Riesling that is full of power and presence in the glass, also a Feinherb “Vom Roten Schiefer” (Red Slate) 2013 which at about $35 is an outstanding dry feeling and expressive Riesling. These are detailed and focused wines that merit praise and attention, you should search them out if you are a Riesling fiend, like me, but also they are wonderful crowd pleasers as well, elegant and open, superb with summer fare and Asian cuisines, especially this pretty Kabinett!
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2016 Brianne Day, Pinot Noir, Vin de Days Rouge, Oregon.
The new Vin de Days Pinot Noir by Brianne Day is entertaining and slightly feral in character with an essence of Nouveau meets natural wine, but drinks with a beautiful fruit clarity that was missing in last years version, I confess to liking this Vin de Days very much and her (Brianne’s) new Alsace inspired Edelswicker white blend as well. While her single vineyard Pinots remain her top offerings, she does an impressive array of non-conformist wines as well, and she has certainly got the attention of the Oregon wine enthusiasts, especially those that want something a bit different, like Brianne’s southern Oregon red blends like her Cabernet Franc, Tennat and Kot (Malbec) cuvee as well as her Cote-Rotie style Syrah and Viognier. The 2016 Vin de Days Rouge starts with semi-carbonic notes of juicy berry fruit, tropical notes and liquid roses along with a vein of earthy spices and candied orange before setting course to traditional Pinot Noir notes of black cherry, plum and raspberry. There’s a bit of Christmas cake, cinnamon and forest floor in the background, but it really is all about the vibrancy and brightness off youth that appeals, nothing too serious to contemplate, just fun and a touch wild, it reminds me of Moulin A Vent meets Arianna Occhipinti’s Tami Frappato. Sourced from selected sites in the Chehalem Mountains and made for immediate consumption this edition of Vin de Days Rouge hints at the potential of the vintage, which I hear is going to be a highly respected year for Oregon, especially Willamette Valley wines, Day has found a niche and is making some unique, playful, serious and thrilling wines, this one is the gateway to her style, enjoy over the coming year or so.
($27 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2014 Anthill Farms, Syrah, Sonoma Coast.
The Anthill Farms team Webster Marquez, Anthony Filiberti and David Low make some California’s most authentic Pinot Noir, focusing on terroir and vintage to showcase each wine, they met while working at Williams Selyem, and have grown from 200 cases in 2009 to just under 2,000 cases in recent years, with most all their wines being sold out to their mailing list. They also make one of California’s best deals in varietal Syrah and the 2014 version from Sonoma Coast cool climate sites is a beauty, while known mostly for their Pinot Noir and super rare Chardonnay, Anthill Farms Syrah is always one of my favorite wines by this talented trio. Anthony Filiberti, who now is head winemaker at Hirsch Vineyards, and former front man at Knez, another Pinot focused winery that was exclusively Anderson Valley, has found some amazing fruit sources for this Syrah and most sites they work with for grapes practice organic and or biodynamic farming, also there is an old school/traditional mindset, to craft minimalistic and pure wines. This is especially true in the Syrah, used wood, native yeasts and some whole cluster allow the Syrah to show it’s northern Rhone heritage with dark berry fruit, brambly and peppery spices as well as earthy notes, game, anise and crushed violets all playing a part in this well judged and executed wine. Lean and Cornas like the Anthill Farms Sonoma Coast leads with the floral, pepper and graphite elements, but quickly fills in on the palate with boysenberry, black cherry, blueberry and subtle cassis, herbs, gravel and tapenade. While fruit driven and medium full, it stays fresh, vibrant and lifting with enough acidity, silken tannin and savoriness to be complex and balanced throughout, I love this vintage. I suggest searching this wine out, it usually is one of the easiest to find of the lineup and the best priced, while I would also look for any of the Pinots, in particular the Peters Vineyard and the Anderson Valley cuvee, drink the Syrah over the next 5 to 10 years and without much guilt often, even now!
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 I. Brand & Family Winery, Cabernet Franc, Bagly Ranch, Paicines.
Ian Brand’s latest release is a killer Chinon like Cabernet Franc, showing the vintage’s concentration, but with lovely varietal character and absolutely gorgeous length and detail, this is a stunning California wine! Tasted with Ian at his tasting room in Carmel Valley, while he was spinning some soulful vinyl and regaling a few music and wine lovers just made the whole experience that more intriguing and fun. The 2015 Cabernet Franc Bagly Ranch Vineyard starts with lush red berry, framboise notes, spice and floral tones, this dark garnet hued young red really fills the palate with layers of dense fruit, with a core of raspberry, plum, black cherry and mulberry as well as a hint of classic bell pepper, crushed violets, fennel and mineral. A small yield adds to the lavish mouth feel and full bodied texture and the subtle wood really brings out the Loire styling in this fabulous wine. If you’ve not discovered Monterey’s Ian Brand yet, you need to try his wines, from his P’Tit Paysan Rhone Blend Style wines to his La Marea varietal wines, like his outstanding Albarino and Old Vine Grenache, but for that bit more exclusive enthusiast, you need to taste the I. Brand & Family line, with this Cabernet Franc and the Mourvedre leading the way, these are truly great offerings! Drink this Bagly Cab Franc over the next 3 to 10 years, though I love it’s youthful expression right now, it should gain with bottle age, it’s kick ass stuff.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2016 Francois Crochet, Sancerre Rose, Loire Valley, France.
The delicately detailed, minerally fresh and utterly charming Crochet Sancerre Rose of Pinot Noir is a great and stylish summer wine, perfect for #nationalroseday and anytime. With the 2015 vintage in Sancerre offering power, concentration and exotic flavors, the 2016 vintage brings back the more subtle, lighter and elegant profile, it’s a lovely vintage to enjoy in it’s youth, it’s class and pleasing, and this wine highlights that classic nature and revels in it with vivid and pure flavors that give the terroir in full, but without being dull in anyway. Focused fruit, stony/earth and dusty spices shine in the Francois Crochet rose, it’s Pinot character in view from start to finish with sour cherry, strawberry, rosewater, minty herb, wet stone and liquid mineral all coming through in this brisk, vibrant and graceful dusty dry pink wine. The Sancerre Blanc 2016 is also a very easy to love effort from Francois Crochet, but the 2015 Francois Crochet Les Exils Sancerre Blanc takes things to a much higher level with racy acidity, deep, dense and thrillingly Sauvignon Blanc vitality, this is a producer to search out for soil expressive wines of refined class and distinction. I know I can make use for this Rose this summer and well into the fall, look for it!
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2016 Tatomer, Rose of Pinot Noir, Edna Valley.
Graham Tatomer’s outstanding and dry Rose of Pinot Noir, the wine formerly known as “Spatburgunder Rose” is a flavorful summer wine of crisp intensity and charm, it fits in nice with his latest set of releases that are some of his best wines to date. The Rose is bright with tangy fruit essences including distilled strawberry, sour cherry, pink grapefruit/citrus, watermelon and a hint of guava in a steely, mineral driven frame with brisk acidity and stony elements. With a few swirls, a light rosewater, minty/lavender and red peach comes through as well and it drinks with some flair and verve, it’s an easy pink to love and has enough body and structure to be a fine companion with cuisine. Tatomer’s 2016 Gruner Veltliner Meeresboden is also a new wine from this winery to get on to as soon as possible, it’s loaded with energy and vitality with mouth-watering dusty dry vigor, ultra refreshing, vivid and vibrant with laser like focus and Austrian inspiration showing very clearly, Graham’s experience shines in this wine, least we forget he worked at Knoll and in the Wachau! Gruner has taken hold here in California and in Oregon with some fantastic wines on offer, with Tatomer leading the way, but you’ll certainly want to check out Johan Vineyards in the Willamette Valley and a trio from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Alfaro Family Vineyards, Vocal and (even) Arnot-Roberts! Back to this lovely Tatomer Rose, be sure to find it, it sells out fast, it really impresses on the palate and is simply a tasty treat for these warm days, drink over the next year.
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2013 Feraud-Brunel, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France.
This partnership Cotes du Rhone rouge between top Chateauneuf-du-Pape producers Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pégau and André Brunel of Domaine Les Cailloux is a way to deliver great value regional offerings from sites outside of the famed Chateauneuf from organic vines and crafted in the same style as their more famous bottlings, making for stylish and forward Grenache based wines. Especially intriguing is this 2013 Cotes du Rhone Villages, crafted from old vine Grenache at Brunel’s cellar unfined and unfiltered, it’s worthy of it’s “Baby Cailloux/Pegau” nickname with it’s beautiful rich detail and earthy charms, ripe with flavor and lovely spice and floral tones. Their oenologist, Philippe Cambie one of the Rhone’s highest regarded guru(s) has helped this great team put out some fantastic bargains like this one, it shows a deep garnet hue in the glass and has a pretty bouquet of dark flowers, dusty spices and liqueur notes that leads to a medium/full palate of boysenberry, plum, pomegranate, brandied cherry/kirsch, wild lavender, peppercorns, minty/salted black licorice and refined tannin. This wine gains weight and mouth feel with air and has impressive overall presence and length, this Feraud-Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages Rouge is a wonderful expression of terroir, old world charm and a wine that begs to be quaffed often, it’s hard to fault in any way shape or form, I hope to drink many more bottles myself, enjoy this beauty over the next couple of years.
($15-19 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2015 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel, Old Vine, California.
The richly loaded and vigorous Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 is deep in layers and detail with a full body and warm vintage concentration as well as spice, mineral and satiny texture making for a thrilling and hedonistic wine. Harmony and structure highlight this vintage and this 2015 drinks wonderfully with flair, style and with impressive length, Bedrock has crafted a brilliant set of wines in 2015, especially this blend of vineyards and terroirs that make up this wine, but you’ll also want to try to get the rare Heritage bottlings, in particular you want to find the Bedrock Vineyard, Pagani Ranch and Papera Ranch all of which take Zinfandel field blends to a level of greatness that will blow your mind! I am convinced these wines will age extremely well and may just go down as legendary expressions of California wine, and they follow a similar path as the Ridge Zins have and continue to follow, but with their own uniqueness of place, I can only hope to re-visit these Bedrock wines in 10 to 15 years, their potential looks amazing. The 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel starts with a bouquet of dried rose petals/violets, lavender, black fruit, graphite/dust, briar spice and light cedar which also reflects on the lush dense palate along with boysenberry, raspberry, plum and kirsch as well as a hint of mocha, bramble/pepper/sage and cola bean. This is a pleasing Zinfandel that lingers on the finish and leaves a sweet fruit impression, ripe and succulent in feel, but with complex savory tones in the background in this young wine, it should develop nicely with refinement and depth. Drink whenever you get the urge, it can be an excellent Zin as is and for 5 to 10 years, it’s exciting stuff at a great price.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
nv Diebolt-Vallois, Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne, a Cramant, France.
The Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Brut is a fine all Chardonnay bubbly that shines in the glass and is lush and lavishly rich in the glass with a pure and expansive palate, but with an elegant velvety mousse and polished refinement, this is wonderfully crafted grower fizz that offers a lot of quality for the money. The decedent a Cramant delivers smooth and vibrant layers of green apple, lemon and creamy brioche as well as mineral notes, white flowers, lifting acidity, wet stone, exotic tropical expression and hazelnut with easy to love forwardness, while remaining vigorous and crisp, this is not as nervy as an extra brut, but still a thrill with a luxurious mouth feel and plenty of energy. Imported by Martine’s Wines, Champagne Diebolt-Vallois in the Cote de Blancs was founded back in 1959, but is now crafted by Arnaud Diebolt and family on the chalky soils that make this bubbly so divine, these are classy efforts that deserve attention. I can see much more of this sparkling wine in my future, it’s a lovely way to celebrate friends and life as well as a solid choice for meals, drink this beauty often, great for people like me on a budget, but loves a real Champagne from time to time!
($42 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive