Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2017

2014 Damilano, Langhe Arneis, Piedmonte, Italy.
This bright and vibrant Arneis by Damilano, who are more known for their Barolo, is a delight in the glass with a golden/straw pale hue and lightly floral bouquet, it’s a light bodied white with good detail and easy to quaff. Perfect after golf and a leisurely Italian lunch with a variety of antipasti the 2014 Damilano picks up flavor and has a nice cut of acidity to be a perfect companion with a food, with refreshing citrus, green apple and anise on the lean palate, it’s got energy and mineral tones that make this white and classy and simple pleasure. The 2014 vintage, not a great year by any means in Piedmonte, still charms and while not a thriller, this Damilano Langhe Arneis gives a darn good performance and is more interesting than most Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios in it’s menu price class, but I think if you have this year, you’ll want to drink it sooner v. later, I think it’s at it’s best right now. This wine is a solid example of Arneis, a rare local varietal that can produce outstanding whites, usually in and around Barolo and Roero zones. Drink the 2014 Damilano Langhe Arneis now, and while this is a worthy vintage for this wine, I also suggest getting the slightly better vintages of 2015 (riper) and the new 2016 which is looking to be much more exciting year in the region.
($15-18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2017

2012 Vieux Chateau Saint Andre, Montagne Saint-Emillon, Red Bordeaux, France.
Made by ex Petrus winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet and son Jeff, who manages the family Berrouet estate in Montagne Saint-Emilion, this savvy pick is an all Merlot red Bordeaux that offers a lot of quality for the money. Delightfully fresh and deep in flavors, this outstanding buy, shows elegant cedary notes to go along with black cherry, mulberry and currant fruit with loamy/mineral tones that give this lush Merlot an earthy edge and sultry mouth feel, this wine is a class act from start to finish. Far from the normal modern over the top right bank it isn’t an over new oaked bore, while still clean and generous in style, this is a fine example of attention to detail from vines to bottle. The deep garnet hue and depth of flavor just gets better with air and time in the glass, this is why you should re-think that no Merlot bias, plus another reason to drink Bordeaux.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2017

2005 Chateau d’Armailhac, Pauillac, Grand Cru Classe, Red Bordeaux, France.
The Baron Philip de Rothschild Chateau d’Armailhac 2005 is drinking beautifully, I was certain it was a 2001 vintage in a blind tasting, such was it’s refined tannin and lively nature, this is not an overly ripe ’05 that I’ve come to expect, this wine showed pure Pauillac class and velvet wrapped power giving a world class performance against an eclectic group of Bordeaux wines. The Cabernet is purring here with deep currant, blackberry, mulberry and plum fruits on the palate along with traditional loamy/baked clay and earthy tones following an elegant start of floral notes and hints of cedar, delicate smoky wood and cassis in a long finished wine that is almost as good as it’s more well known brother Mouton, in fact I almost like the d’Armailhac better in it’s fresh detail and less obvious smoky oak. One of my worst wines ever was the 2000 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and while 1982 and 1986 were exceptional as one expects, I am not a Mouton fan, so this makes this d’Armailhac’s showing that much more impressive! (for me) With air this red Bordeaux really gets going and fills out, it is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and surprising as it seems from this vintage it says 13.3% alcohol! Depth comes into focus with time in the glass and touches of kirsch/cherry, blueberry, minty anise and mineral/graphite pop up in this medium full bodied Bordeaux, it’s tannic structure has really rounded and become silky, in fact this is sexy opulent stuff that makes an impact and it should go another decade and then some in the cellar, it is a thing of beauty and terroir purity with it’s lovely deep purply and garnet edged hue, funny it almost tastes more like it’s neighbor Pontet-Canet than Mouton! If you can find it at the wine-searcher price as of Nov. 2017, it is worth every penny, it’s the real deal. Thanks to Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards for sharing this wine us, I’m grateful for his kindness and because I may not have bought this bottle myself, though now I almost certainly will!
($70-90 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2017

2013 Domaine du Pegau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee Reserve, Rhone Red, France.
Laurence Feraud’s gorgeous traditionally crafted 2013 Reserve Chateauneuf is the real deal with wonderful layers of fruit, spice, earthiness and garrigue as well as a showy hedonistic personality that makes you really pay attention to every sip! This 2013 is getting good right now, well integrated with much less of an oaky feel and presence than in the past, it feels fantastic on the palate with beautiful detail and has impressive force and impact showing ripe boysenberry, plum jam, dusty raspberry, ground pepper, creme de cassis, dried lavender, hints of mission fig, crushed stones and saddle leather. This serious Chateauneuf may not be a hyped year, as the 2015 certainly will be, but damn this is thrilling stuff and looks to be a steal when comparing prices of top Chateauneuf-du-Pape offerings, it’s a lovely bottle that delivers everything you’d want from this region. The Pegau Reserve is a deep garnet/purple with a slight brick note on the edges and with air the nose develops floral, game and kirsch elements while the finish lingers with it’s weighty Grenache charms, plus a salted licorice and morello cherries, it’s mostly Grenache 80% as you can taste along with small amounts Syrah, Mourvedre and a mix of permitted varietals. Ms Feraud gets the most out of her old vine plots that are grown on the classic galets as well as sand, clay and chalky limestone, she used carefully sorted whole clusters with stems going for native and natural ferments in cement vats before aging the Cuvee Reserve 24 months in large cask, in well seasoned old neutral oak these days, with extra low sulfur and as little as possible acid added depending on vintage balance. Usually a sexy wine, this 2013 does not disappoint, enjoy this Chateauneuf over the next 5 to 10 years, best to decant and have with robust and rustically simple cuisine for the best experience, also check out Pegau’s Cote du Rhone and Vin de France reds, they are wildly enjoyable too.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 11, 2017

2012 Chateau le Puy, Cuvee Emilien, Cotes de Francs, Red Bordeaux, France.
Jean-Pierre and son Pascal Amoreau’s Chateau le Puy Emilien Bordeaux is an all biodynamic red made up of about 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec and 1% Carménère grown on a mix of clay, silex and limestone at an elevation of 350 feet above sea level, the second highest vineyards in all of Bordeaux, on the same plateau as the upper parts of both Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. This is a beautiful and stylish wine that delivers a stellar performance in the glass with graceful tannins, a full bodied and wonderful persistence and length, it’s hard to believe it can be this good while being so young, but it is and the Le Puy 2012 should only get better! The Merlot and limestone terroir are singing here with supple fruit, earth and warm terra-cotta notes leading the way, the start shows a hint of acacia, graphite and mulberry before turning generous and complex on the palate with blackberry, plum and rich cherry fruit as well as cedary spices, minty notes, tobacco, sandalwood and loam, finishing with a hint of creme de cassis, anise and cola bean. This fresh vintage has good intensity of attack, but with graceful roundness and while structured and with just the right amount of acidity in it’s veins, it is easy to enjoy now. There is a youthful fruity charm here, though underpinned with plenty of hidden force and with another 5 to 10 years this just might prove to be a classic. I’ve had the 2011 on many occasions and while not a renown year it starred with complexity and density, so I am certain there is a lot to come from this 2012, this is a unique Bordeaux expression that deserves your full attention. Drink this 2012 Chateau le Puy anytime, but I’d say the best window would be 2022-2030. I was grateful Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland had it in stock for a blind Bordeaux tasting flight, and had it on special, a big thank you to the team there for getting this Rosenthal Selections (Importer) wine to me in time, it’s a jewel!
($40-50 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 10, 2017

2015 Domaine de L’Edu “Muse” Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin de France, Loire Valley, France.
Fred Niger’s Domaine de L’Ecu makes some of the finest Muscadet Sevre et Maine there is and he is also crafting some lots of seriously fun exotic wines including amphorae aged white and reds as well as this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rose. This bright and acidity driven pink is 50% Saignee and 50% direct press giving this tank raised Rose a bit of ying and yang balance of ripe fruit and zesty intensity, it is a harmonious and mineral toned wine with a chalky and stony core showing delicate red berry, watermelon, rose water and sour cherry as well as a hint of caramel, distilled currant and tart spiciness. Domaine de L’Ecu’s Muse, with it’s very risqué label (click on image to make bigger), is a wonderful example of this regions class and age worthiness, as this 2015 is still amazingly youthful, vibrant and austere. I must confess, I almost always shun Rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot as I usually find them dull, overly fruity or lean/green, so I was thrilled with this wine’s performance, not surprising really considering how good everything is from Domaine de L’Ecu! All organic and biodynamic, Domaine de L’Ecu has really turned up the quality since Fred took over the estate in 2012 and look to get even more interesting with some of his pet projects coming to the market, but don’t overlook his basic Melon de Bourgogne Muscadet Ecu Classic, it’s a amazing oyster companion and one of the best white wines under $20 you can find! Niger’s low sulfur, gentile cellar work and handwork in the vines shows up in the wine’s energy and natural feel, these are soulful terroir wines, I can’t wait to taste his new releases, imported by Floraison Selections, do not miss a chance to sample these exciting and racy Loire wines!
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 9, 2017

2016 Joyce Vineyards, Chardonnay, Tondre Grapefield, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The steely fresh new release Tondre Grapefield Chardonnay from Russell Joyce and team is a winner, maybe the best yet from this vineyard I’ve ever tasted with it’s crunchy mineral charms and vibrant/racy fruit this is pure class! As mentioned in many recent reviews here, Russell is one of the rising stars in California’s central coast and is one of a new generation in Monterey that is breaking the old mold and crafting a more seriously exciting and vibrant style of wines, going away from heavy extraction and flashy new oak and making beautifully detailed wines that showcase the unique terroirs of this region. This latest Tondre Chardonnay is the anti-Rombauer, and while I have lots of respect for the success of Rombauer’s famous “Cougar Juice”, this Joyce Tondre is much more thrilling with a Chablis like energy and verve, it’s not a fat and flabby butter bomber, though generous and stylish with a focused harmony and texture. The nose is stony and full of mineral tones, along with hints of white flowers, brine and lemon oil that is classic white Burgundy, I was taken aback at how good this wine started and even more intrigued by the whole performance with it’s vivid bosc pear, granny smith apple and zesty mayer lemon core fruits as well as Italian garden herbs, chalky wet rock, white peach, faint golden fig, a touch of saline, subtle wood, used French oak, a whiff of tropical essences and verbena/kumquat on the graceful finish. This wine stays invigorating even with air, and while the 2016 Joyce Tondre Grapefield, mostly coming from Dijon Clones, gains roundness as it warms in the glass it remains lithe and lean with a medium body and impressive intensity. If you are looking for a stellar post modern Chardonnay that reminds you of just how dynamic California Chardonnay can be, this is a wine to get, drink now through 2023.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 8, 2017

2015 Domaine de la Touraize, Arbois, Trousseau Les Corvees, Jura, France.
Made by vigneron Andre Jean Morin, the Touraize 2015 Trousseau is a ripe vintage wine with an exciting earthy character and mineral intensity in a lighter ruby hued wine that unfolds into a medium weight red that leads with tangy fruit and savory undertones. Native ferments and 12 months in large cask allow the terroir to show through with excellent results, the south west facing slopes of Les Corvees make for a longer hang-time and keeps natural acidity in the grapes on the gravel and clay soils which gives this Trousseau it’s density and subtle fruitiness, this Domaine is fairly new to me, but impresses for it’s under the radar quality and reasonable pricing, this is a fun example of this region that is perfect for lighter cuisine and especially charcuterie. These are 40 year old vines with everything done by hand, this adds to the authentic nature that comes through on the palate, it starts with hints of flinty spice, brine and delicate floral notes along with it’s pale ruby color before gaining impact and delivering tart cherry, unripe plum, strawberry and cranberry fruits as well as a dusting of pepper, anise, nutmeg, celery seed, leather and iron/sanguine tones. More savory and rustic than fruity the Domaine de la Touraize Arbois Trousseau, imported by Balanced Wine Selections and offered by Alex Lallos is a brand new vintage just coming into stock is a classic Jura old school wine to look for and be sure not to miss their sparkling Cremant du Jura Blanc de Blancs! This was pre sale sample bottle tasted with Alex Lallos.
($26 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 7, 2017

2016 M. Lapierre, Julienas, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The new Julienas from Mathieu Lapierre is sourced from the lieu-dit Côte de Bessay (single vineyard plot) from 60 year old vines set on volcanic and schist soils and makes for a great addition to the Lapierre lineup with it’s bright and spicy character, it’s a tad more delicate than the Morgon Cru wines, as you’d expect, but it has a wonderful clarity and persistence on the palate. Lapierre is one of the stars of the natural wine movement and continues with pure and organic wines that inspire the world over, imported by Kermit Lynch, they are one of the elite producers of Gamay and Beaujolais wines along with Foillard, Breton, Thevenet, Dutraive, Julien Sunier and Jean-Paul Brun as well as many more. The 2016 Julienas by Mathieu & Camille Lapierre is a beautiful wine, and as with all of the wines by Lapierre it was native yeast fermented whole cluster at cold cellar temps with a maceration that usually lasts about two weeks to 20 days with very low sulfur (this is not a totally no sulfur cuvee) and aged about 9 months in used Burgundy barrels (ranging from 3 year to 13 year passage) along with no fining or filtering. What sets Lapierre apart is their attention to detail, passion and fanatical sorting of the gapes to ensure the highest quality in each and every wine, and this Julienas performs at the highest level, in fact it might be the best Julienas I’ve ever tasted! Brilliant and fresh with vibrant fruit and delicate spring flowers lead the way with a dark garnet/ruby hue in the glass and a wonderful expressive Gamay grapey palate with black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, plum and cherry fruits as well as zesty cinnamon, pecan/cedar, saline, red peach, liquid violets and faint mineral tones. This wine is a class act and the light nature and quality give this wine a winning appeal and is attractive in every sense, it’s going to be a hard get at this point, but worth the search as are all of Lapierre’s wine, drink now and for 3 to 5 years, it’s a gorgeous clean and vivid holiday cuisine companion.
($28-32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 6, 2017

2014 Goodfellow Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Bishop Creek Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Delicately layered and spicy the 2014 Bishop Creek is a pretty effort, especially for a richer vintage in Oregon, made by Marcus Goodfellow, the ex-Evesham Woods and Westerly man is coming into his own as a talent, inspired by Doerner of Cristom and John Paul of Cameron, you can see the style showing through here. Bishop Creek, planted to Pommard and Wadenswil (old Swiss clone), now owned by Nicolas Meo of the famed Burgundy Domaine Meo-Camuzet for his American Nicolas-Jay winery, in the Willamette Valley’s Yamhill-Carlton, not far from Shea Vineyards, formed this wine with it’s distinct strawberry and racy red cherry core along with the mixed spice, mineral tones and light wood influence, it’s southern exposure and Willakenzie soils (dark rocky marine sediment) gives warm and grace, planted in 1988 the vines ripen without flamboyant extraction, allowing more finesse to show through and at 13.9% this medium weight wine offers fine detail, opulence and restrained almost earthy soulfulness. Hints of bitter herb, cedar and candied citrus rind add a tangy note to the whole and the finish echoes the red fruits in subtle fashion with a touch of wilted roses lingering on. I was turned on to this lovely wine by the gang at Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland, and it came highly recommended, and it shines right now, though best to enjoy it with cuisine to match as it a tad shier than other 2014 Oregon Pinots (I’ve tried) and needs time and coaxing to reach it’s beautiful peak, best from 2018 to 2022.
($30-40 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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