Category Archives: Wine Reviews

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 9, 2019

2017 Pax, Syrah, North Coast -photo grapelive

2017 Pax, Syrah, North Coast.
The once in a while rarity, Pax’s North Coast Syrah is a multi-regional blend of sites, or as Pax puts it, this 100% Syrah is a blend of all of his favorite vineyards done with 100% whole cluster, 100% carbonic fermentation(s) in concrete and with partial concrete aging with a small part of the blend raised in neutral French oak, all together for 10 months. In 2017, Pax didn’t feel all the single vineyard sites merited separate bottlings, so this resulting wine is far more pedigreed than the label would suggest. This makes for a vibrant and complex wine with surprising depth for the price, showing tangy youthful grapey character at this stage, it should really develop into a more serious effort over the next year or two in bottle and age well for at least 10 years gaining throughout, though highly enjoyable and quaffable right now. In fact it is so fun and crunchy it reminds me somewhat of a Dutraive Fleurie or Lapierre Morgon in style, but with a pure Syrah profile with black raspberry, blueberry, sugar plums, zesty currant and candied cherry fruits along with cracked pepper, frisky acidity, mineral notes, camphor, dried basil, anisette, cut flowers and cinnamon.

The textural quality builds with air, but the stems add bite and energy highlighting the fresh details, it is much more brambly than the longer elevage Pax Syrahs, like the single vineyard and or Sonoma Hillsides versions, less polished and less opulent, but with the classic cool climate personality of a none AOC Northern Rhone Syrah, similar to Clape’s Le Vin des Amis or the Domaine Jamet Syrah Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes. On day two being open the 2017 Pax North Coast Syrah does flesh out a lot and it adds some deeper fruit intensity and earthiness which leads to a more hedonistic presence on the palate, but still with its vigorous form holding on making for a very impressive performance. Pax has just released this for his Spring offering, and you shouldn’t miss it, it joins his other Glou Glou style no sulfur added wines, the Trousseau Gris with it’s slightly pinkish hue and his dark colored, but light and low alcohol Valdiguié. After a troubled winter with floods, Pax’s Spring is looking uo his latest set of wines are wonderfully crafted and exciting, check them out while they last.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 8, 2019

2016 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Clos Electrique, Estate, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2016 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Clos Electrique, Estate, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The monopole “Clos Electrique” Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir has to be one of Oregon’s most iconic wines and John Paul, Cameron’s winemaker, has made an epic version in 2016, I mean god help the French if this wine ever got into a blind tasting versus some of the top Grand Cru Burgundies, because this stuff will blown their minds! The original Pinot Noir clones at this special Dundee Hills site were planted on their own roots in 1984 and over the years, Cameron has added new vines that were grafted onto American root stock. This vintage is heavenly deep in color with dark garnet red hues and core of opaqueness this stuff looks the part and tastes even better with stunning range of fruit, earth, spice and mineral tones on the concentrated medium full palate. As warm, ripe and dense as the year was, Cameron’s Clos Electrique, named after the vineyard’s ring of electric fencing to keep marauding deer out of the grapes, has a sublime sense of balance, and refined low natural alcohol at a surprising 13.2%, but with a powerful mouth feel and unbelievable length, this is ultra serious stuff that rivals Dujac, Men-Camuzet and Rousseau!

This wine bursts from the glass with a slight touch of reductive funk before revealing intense sensational fruit led by blackberry, racy plum, black cherry and tart currants along with hints of truffle, anise, red spices, which I feel is the underlying Jory soils expressing themselves, as well as a touch of smoky wood, earthy fig, orange zest, leather and violets. The addition of tart garden grown strawberries and bitter coco only add to the gorgeous complexity while the textural side of things gains in a dance between regal opulence and vigorous grip in a play of sensual heightened tension and release, something all great wines seem to deliver.

The Dundee Hills AVA grown Clos Electrique Rouge, as this Pinot is known as by the winery, consists of at least 15 different clones of Pinot Noir selections that were planted by Paul on a mere 2 acres (less than 1 hectare) of land. The yields at Clos Electrique are always very small averaging between 1 and 2 tons of fruit per acre (that is less than 25 hl/hectar) of which makes it rare and concentrated in style, with Paul adding that his Clos Electrique is typically gnarly and intense, (it is) changing constantly in the glass and has fooled many wine-lovers into declaring it to be an old world wine, which I can attest to myself.

The winemaking at Cameron is old school and traditional Burgundian with all of the wines are fermented with the indigenous yeasts in open top tanks, John Paul jokingly adds, in which beautiful women immerse their nude bodies in the warm must to keep things exciting in the cellar. (maybe not true?) Then resulting wines are raised for nearly 2 years in French oak barrels, which vary from new to completely neutral, never heavy handed in their use and then bottled without filtration. To ensure real terroir, Clos Electrique is farmed organically and without irrigation, Cameron use only elemental sulfur during the growing season to prevent growth of powdery mildew and use copper hydroxide and leaf removal in the vicinity of grape clusters to inhibit botrytis. While Insect pests are kept at bay by cultivation of predatory insects with an integrated cover crop. This site is thought of as one of the warm zones, but John Paul’s wines are full of energy and remarkably fresh and age worthy, and this cuvee is one of the Willamette Valley greatest wines, it is a bucket list Pinot, no question.
($59-79 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 7, 2019

2017 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Trocken, Abtei, VDP Erste Lage, Nahe Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Trocken, Abtei, VDP Erste Lage, Nahe Germany.
The bright and precise Abtei Trocken shines with a delicate and generous nature, it shows a crystalline mineral driven character and peachy fruits, vibrant crisp detail and a lingering charm in the glass. Very pale greenish gold in the glass and full of energy the 2017 Abtei bursts to life on the palate with that peach, key lime, green apple and tangerine fruits along with flinty wet stones, minty zest, citron/verbena and a saline mouth watering note, this is a wine of refined form and dry extract, making for a Riesling that can be drunk young and one that should age nicely. I always appreciate the class and lacy style of Georg’s wines, especially in his drier wines, they are easy to love and have subtle power and underlying vigor, while his sweeter wines always show impeccable balance, this is a winery that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves and always gives exceptional value for the quality in the bottle. The Abtei Erstes Gewachs was all spontanous fermentation (native yeast) fermented and aged in over 30 years old Stückfässern (German oak large cask) on the lees for close to 9 months before bottling, coming in at 12.5% natural alcohol. The vines here, all hand tended, are between 50 and 80 years old, which shows in this Riesling’s concentration and vitality, and ever since I walked this vineyard with Georg, in 2016, I have been a huge fan.

Georg Rumpf’s latest set of wines are some of the best yet from this estate near the confluence of the Nahe and Rhein Rivers and the town of Bingen, which sits across the Rhein from the historic Rudesheim. The 2017 Abtei maybe the best kept secret in Rumpf’s portfolio and comes from the closest parcel of vines to the winery, and a site that is extremely difficult to work, especially to their organic leaning practices, it always shows amazing energy and terroir elements that are similar to the famous Schlossberg Grand Cru on the other side of the Rhein as it shares the same soils and exposures. The Kruger-Rumpf estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim, a small village (close to Bingen) on the western side of the Nahe River, in the most northern section of this region, which has a bit more warmth than the southern middle zone of the Nahe, which gives the Kruger-Rumpf’s wines their concentration and sunny warmth. The Bingerbrücker “Abtei” im Ruppertsberg 1er Cru is set on phyllite, which is mica slate, again as mentioned on a south facing very steep hillside. Abtei, which means abbey, once belonged to the abbey at Bingen, home to Hildegard vom Bingen, the matron of the city, and is the most northern vineyard in the Nahe. If you want a wine Kruger-Rumpf wines to look for besides this one, be sure to check out their Dautenpfanzer GG Riesling, the Binger Scharlachberg GG Riesling, the Münsterer Pittersberg Spatlese and their gorgeous Scheurebe!
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 6, 2019

2016 Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Bourgogne Blanc, France -photo grapelive

2016 Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Bourgogne Blanc, France.
The latest basic Bourgogne Blanc from the talented Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey is a beauty and shows vivid form and detail, it gives a performance way beyond its price class or label. Always a killer value the 2016 version displays vibrant citrus, leaning on lemony notes along with classic apple and pear fruits as well as mineral, golden fig, clove and hazelnut on the brisk palate. This wine while lovely and textured has a stony austerity and is not showy and is more for those that love a lean style and focused Chardonnay.

One of the world’s great white wine producers, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey has build a serious cult following and his laser sharp white Burgundies ooze class, vibrancy and precision, and his wines can in the lesser crus and appellation series offerings are fantastic values, while his top crus are the stuff of legends. Pierre-Yves Colin Morey, aka PYCM, is the eldest son of the famed Marc Colin, and after working as the winemaker at his father’s domaine from 1994 to 2005, he established his own domaine from family vineyards that he had inherited from his family. PYCM would go on to become a star in the Cote de Beaune and is now considered one of Burgundy’s top producers, and his wife Caroline Morey with his help and her own family connections is now a rising star too.

Colin-Morey’s choice, according to his importer Skurnik Wines, to use larger demi-muid barrels and eschew the use of battonnage, makes each one of his bottlings a clear expression of its terroir and a study in mineral-driven Chardonnay, of which I find to be a proven truth as well, these are laser sharp Chards that have helped define what we expect from the region

One of Burgundy’s ultimate values, the PYCM Bourgogne Blanc has an exceptional pedigree coming exclusively from 40 plus year old parcels, all grown to organic or at least sustainable practices in Saint-Aubin, 65% in 2016 and 35% from Puligny-Montrachet. Pierre-Yves as per normal with his Chardonnays, fermented and aged his Bougogne Blanc in 350L barrels using only indigenous yeasts, he employed just 10% new oak on this vintage and bottled as usual without fining and unfiltered.

This 2016 Bourgogne Blanc is showing well and while almost impossible to find without the help of wine-searcher it remains a wine to look for price and substance, and be sure to search out the non Premier Cru St. Aubin stuff, and especially the Premier Cru En Remilly for exceptional value in white Burgundy!
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 5, 2019

2016 Passopisciaro “Passorosso” Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 Passopisciaro “Passorosso” Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
The beautifully detailed and flavored 2016 Passopisciaro Passorosso, which is a medium bodied Nerello Mascalese from the north side of Mount Etna has the class, complexity and style that certainly would impress the most ardent Cote d’Or fan and rivals Italian offerings from the major and or more famous regions. This vintage impresses on the palate with layers of black cherry, plum, strawberry and blood orange fruits along with it’s volcanic soul of red pepper, iron/flinty minerals, saline, tart acidity and delicate smoke and flowers. The textural richness and length is admirable, without any flab to be found, this is a precise and focused wine that really makes an impact in the glass, showing a mysterious combination of seductive fruity intensity, savory tones and the inviting bright ruby/garnet color.

Passopisciaro, which was founded by Tuscan vintner Andrea Franchetti after he visited Sicily in 2000, he was keenly interested and intrigued by the seemingly lost and abandoned vineyards on the northern side of Mount Etna with their unique characteristics of high-elevation terraces on the mineral infused and complex black lava soils. The climate on the north side of the volcano is surprisingly cool and varies greatly in day and night temperatures, this helps add the vital acidity to keep these wines from the ancient local Nerello Mascalese grape fresh and almost dare we say Burgundian in style, this has made Etna one of the world’s hottest spots for wine in the last 15 years.

Through the years Franchetti has come to understand the beguiling Nerello Mascalese, at first he found it too light and crisp for his taste, but over the years he’s found it’s sweet spot and his has embraced the old feudal system of the contrada wines, that single out special and historic terroirs, it is like single vineyard or crus for this part of the region and he now does five conttrada Nerello based red wines, plus this multi plot Passorosso Etna Rosso DOC, which can only be made if the wine is grown and made within the DOC. Nerello is his main focus with Passopisciaro, which has become one of the most sought after wines on Sicily.

This Passorooso is made with stainless steel temperature-controlled fermentation(s) from all organic and biodynamic grown grapes using selected yeasts to avoid any volatile acidity and then raised in neutral French oak casts for 18 months. The vines for this Passorosso were planted between 1913 and 1943, so there’s plenty of vine age and the wine is always concentrated and full of old vine character, this is especially true of this latest 2016 release, which is 100% Nerello Mascalese that came at a near perfect ripeness at 14% natural alcohol and very expressive in detail and impressive in its depth of flavors and length. This is quality stuff and a great place to start if you haven’t explored the wines of Mount Etna in any meaningful way, this region has lots to love, and this wine clearly expresses this, and it should drink well for many years to come.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 4, 2019

2017 Envinate, Albahra Tinto, Vinos Mediterraneos, Almansa, Spain. -photo grapelive

2017 Envinate, Albahra Tinto, Vinos Mediterraneos, Almansa, Spain.
The latest Enivinate Albahra Tinto is beautiful and is one of the best values in Spain, it shows a delicious array of earthy dark fruit, spice, stones and wild herb notes adding an incense/floral note and lingering kirsch with air, it maybe a warm Mediterranean wine, but it has a Cru Beaujolais sense to it and remains vigorous and fresh throughout. Layers of wild plum, watermelon candy, black cherry and tangy huckleberry fruit unfold with grilled fennel, sage, warm tiles and lilacs all with a nice punch of natural acidity, making for a sweet and savory highlighted red that is highly entertaining and quaffable. The slightly raw and earthy edginess just adds to the feeling of pleasure in this fun, yet serious offering from Spain’s Almansa region. Envinate is one of Spain’s most adventurous and unique winery, founded by the gang of four, Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and Jose Martínez, four friends who met while studying winegrowing at the University of Miguel Hernández in Alicante. Their focus is on Atlantic terroirs, dividing time between the volcano soils of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and the slate steep slopes of the Ribeira Sacra in Spain’s Galicia region, along with a single vineyard in the Estremadura and this single parcel one from Almansa.

Made from mostly the Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) grape with a small amount of the rare local varietal Moravia Agria, the Envinate Albahra is the one wine from this winery that is Mediterranean influenced from the Albacete zone of Almansa region, which is at southern tip of Castilla-La Mancha. I’m a huge fan of this winery and especially the Roberto Santana led Canary Islands reds made from the Mission grapes, Listan Negro and Listen Prieto as well as the Mencia based wines of the Ribeira Sacra, but that said this Garnacha Tintorera based wine is a killer value and a impressive effort as well. The 2017 comes from 30-50 year old head trained-bush vines set on harden clay and sand over limestone soils with all the grapes being organic and hand-harvested, with each of the lots vinified separately by individual parcel. The Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet, which is a dark red skinned varietal with deep red-juice) is from a 3- parcel vineyard on clay/calcareous soils, is gently foot-trodden in a large vat with 30-50% whole cluster with stem inclusion, with about 6-10 days of skin maceration, then fermented and raised on fine lees in concrete tank for 8 month. The Moravia Agria, a high acid grape, comes from a small plot in Manchuela on sandy solis, it is completely destemmed and sees a 7 day maceration before being pressed and raised on fine lees in 228L used French barriques for 8 months, all without battonage (stirring). After which, the finished wine is then blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered with very little SO2 addition. This is tasty stuff again from Envinate, who are getting better and better with each vintage.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 3, 2019

2016 Domaine Jérôme Gradassi, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France -photo grapelive

2016 Domaine Jérôme Gradassi, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
Domaine Jerome Gradassi’s 2016 Chateauneuf Rouge is a gorgeous and textured wine with perfect vintage definition and depth. This is third or fourth vintage of Domaine Jérôme Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge I’ve been able to try and I’m just as excited by this as if it was still the first time, Gradassi has become one of my favorite wineries in the Rhone and I’m thrilled with his new 2016 version, from an outstanding vintage. Jérôme Gradassi Chateauneuf handcrafts his old vine Chateauneuf-du-Pape from an ancient parcel Grenache that was once his grandfathers. Gradassi, Chef and Restauranteur, is much more famous for his Michelin-starred L’Isle Sonnante restaurant located in Avignon, which he sold in 2003, taught himself how to make wine rustic cellar after tasting over his family’s estate in 2004, and I’m thrilled with his recent offerings, which lean heavily on refined natural wine making techniques with only native yeasts and 100% whole cluster fermentation(s), which are done in cement vats. As the cellar is so small and fermentation tanks so old, there are no openings other than the tops of the tanks, hence after 4 weeks, Gradassi removes the fermented juice and macerated berries by hand with a bucket and a rope, as noted by his importer, it’s a painstaking process that can take up to a week. The must is then pressed and transferred into older barrels (4 to 10 years) and aged for 10 months without racking. All of which makes this a thrilling Chateauneuf that deserves your attention, it impresses in mouth feel presence and lingers on and on, it does so without any added frivolous endowments.

This 2016 Rouge flows regally across the full bodied palate with superb layering with glorious mouth feel, but with great detailing and life as well, it delivers blackberry, boysenberry, sweet plums, strawberry and pomegranate fruits along with hints of velvety mocha, kirsch, black licorice, dried lavender, mineral tones, violets/floral elements and a touch of a earthy/leathery meatiness. The main Chateauneuf Rouge is a cuvee of about 75% to 80% Grenache and between 20 to 25% Mourvedre, depending on the year, with the stems, as well as 4 week maceration and hand punch downs makes for a rustic and spicy wine, but good ripe berries and 10 months in very old barrel/cask help smooth the tannins and it is remarkably fresh and vibrant. The process in the cellar is meticulous, and all hard hand worked, with the whole bunches put into underground concrete tanks, rumored to be from an upstairs window, and slowly fermented without the addition of yeast, acid or sugar, and with very little sulfur being employed. The grapes, all organically farmed are from 12 beautiful acres in Chateauneuf-du-Pape planted with about 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre. His property is divided into 6 parcels, all set on sandy soils over clay and limestone, located in the Lieut-dit of Palastor, Bois Dauphin, and Cabriere, all in the northern sector of the AOC where, at 400 feet, it is slightly cooler giving the wines a bit more elegance, perfume and more lift, which shows here in this 2016.
($50 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 2, 2019

2016 Jolie-Laide, Syrah, North Coast -photo grapelive

2016 Jolie-Laide, Syrah, North Coast.
The exceptional 2016 North Coast Syrah by Jolie-Laide shows pretty northern Rhone detailing with crushed violets and bright blue fruits leading the way on the medium bodied palate. Scott Schultz, former wine director under Chef Thomas Keller at Napa Valley’s famed Bouchon, makes Jolie-Laide, one of California’s new wave of natural inspired wines is a one-man operation based in a Sebastopol, he crafts only around 500 cases of wine a year. He named his winery Jolie-Laide, which translates loosely to “Pretty-Ugly” borrowing this French term of endearment, that is used to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful that perfectly describes Schultz’s fun offerings, especially this North Coast Syrah. Scott also works with Pax Mahle, Megan and Ryan Glaab at Ryme Cellars, and as well as formerly helping the guys out at Arnot-Roberts, all of which fits nicely with his own winemaking philosophy and do handcrafted small lots from mostly organic and or sustainable vineyard sites. Schultz is a minimalist in the cellar with a light touch, known for his juicy and quaffable wines and low SO2, as well as championing lesser used varietals like Gamay, Melon, Trousseau Gris, Trousseau Noir and Valdiguie.

This 2016 Jolie-Laide North Coast Syrah is a blend of two Yorkville Highlands vineyard sites, the rugged high elevation Halcon Vineyard, owned by Paul Gordon, one of California’s most dramatic sites that produces some off the state’s best Syrah, planted to Hermitage clone and the almost equally compelling Hawks Butte Vineyard which sits at 1200 ft. elevation with rocky, south facing slopes. According to Schultz he crushed the grapes by foot and fermented 100% whole cluster, with nothing more than gentle punchdowns throughout. He then pressed to old, neutral French oak barriques for just less than a year to preserve vibrancy and to highlight the fresh details in this lovely Syrah. This 2016 is layered and sharply focused with boysenberry, marionberry, plum and black cherry fruits along with fig paste, leather, black olive, peppercorns as well as crushed violet, light cassis, anise and embers. I was highly impressed with the texture, length and vitality in this Jolie-Laide North Coast Syrah, even after leaving the bottle open, without a cork all night, it thrilled the palate and never lost a beat, I only wish I had more as this small production wine is a tough get. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the 2017 vintage Syrah, which is all Halcon Vineyard, which is the current release, and I’ll be checking out their other wines as well.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 1, 2019

2007 Château Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan, Red Bordeaux, France -photo grapelive

2007 Château Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan, Red Bordeaux, France.
This vintage, 2007, is totally under the radar in Bordeaux and while it is never going to be a classic or collectable year for the region there are some fantastic wines and values, including Château Haut-Bergey’s lovely 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon based red from Pessac-Leognan. The 2007 Haut-Bergey’s nose comes across far more mature than the wine is and certainly the fresh palate is much more thrilling than I would have expected, it makes for a great drinking Bordeaux with classic layers of mulberry, currant, cherry and blackberry fruits with touch of graphite, acacia flower, wild plum, tobacco leaf, loamy earth and light cedar notes. This wine gains in personality and charm with air, it finishes with a gorgeous texture and length, making for a wine that way over delivers for the price, even if it will not get too much better with more cellaring. Château Haut-Bergey is located in the heart of the village of Léognan, mecca of Graves which is home to some famous neighboring properties such as Haut-Smith-Laffite, La Louviere, Haut-Brion, La Mission and one of my favorites Château Haut-Bailly, it’s great terroir no question and Haut-Bergey is a great value.

Founded in the 1500’s, Haut-Bergey fell in quality and the vineyards were left in disrepair in the mid 1800’s, maybe at the worst possible time in history and though new owners tried to rescue the Château and vines in 1850, the wines were not worthy to be part of the great 1855 classification and so until 1991 the wines never reached much fame. Now run by Paul Garcin, helped by his team and François Prouteau, the winemaker, the estate is all organic and the biodynamic farming adds to the energy in the wines. Château Haut-Bergey’s red wine is crafted of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but with a good dose of Merlot, and some parts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec grown on the region’s mix of rounded pebbles, broken stone along with clay, limestone and shelly sand. The rise in recent times has made Château Haut-Bergey very attractive for those seeking quality at bargain prices, these wines are exceptional deals especially in less hyped years, as 2007. Apart from the slightly stewy nose, there nothing to complain about and with food this wine really comes alive and adds dimension finding a little bit of grip and filling out to a medium full wine. If you find this wine and want a savvy Bordeaux experience, I recommend buying a few bottles to drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($28 Est.) 90+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day March 31, 2019

2017 Weinhaus Peter Lauer, Saar Riesling Feinherb, Barrel X, Mosel Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weinhaus Peter Lauer, Saar Riesling Feinherb, Barrel X, Mosel Germany.
One of the most exciting producers along the Saar River is Peter Lauer and one of the best values in this part of the Mosel region is his Barrel X Riesling Feinherb, especially in vintages this great, such as this exceptional 2017. This Barrel X is fruity and generous on the palate, but drinks wonderful crisp and drier than you’d expect with radiant yellow fruits, crunchy mineral tones and plenty of mouth watering salinity and stony elements. Adding heightened aromatics and a nice mouth feel Peter Lauer’s little Riesling is quite seductive and transparent with lime, green apple, peach, tangerine and rose hip tea notes in the glass. 2017 is ripe, dense and expressive, but still has reserves of lively acidity and the wine is very energetic and nervy that allows for balance and dynamic tension, which if we are honest is what we are all looking for in Riesling, and the Barrel X delivers it perfectly and at a great price.

Florian Lauer, head of Weinhaus Peter Lauer and famous for their the Kupp Fass 18 Grosses Gewachs, is currently one of the greatest winemakers in the Saar, and his drier wines are in stark contrast to his famous Saar neighbors Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. At Lauer, notes their importer Vom Boden the focus here is on the dry-tasting Rieslings, as opposed to the higher residual sugar wines of the mentioned more traditional Egon Mueller and Zillken. Florian who employs natural-yeast fermentations, Vom Boden adds, that Lauer’s wines find their own balance, and they tend to be more textural, deeper and more masculine in style than others in the region. They have a natural vigor and a sense of balance that can be described as singular, while displaying all of the hallmarks of the Saar, purity, precision, rigor, mineral.

In Lauer’s lineup, this Barrel X is the appellation-level or regional expression, it is Lauer’s Platonic ideal of what a Saar Riesling should be. Trying to make it easier to get an idea of what Florian is trying to do with this one, If we were in Burgundy this would be the equivalent of a Bourgogne Blanc and it is sourced from multiple vineyards in three different villages of the Saar. This is always a thrilling off-dry and steely version, lightly sweet, not overtly complicated , impossible to resist and a gateway wine to his more impressive Grand Crus.

Maybe not as complex or as seriously severe as his GG bottlings, this is a stupidly good Riesling to drink any place or time, it is remarkably flexible and can be sipped and quaffed on it’s own by the pool or great for a warm afternoon picnic or BBQ, as well as with a range of cuisine choices. This 2017 Peter Lauer Barrel X Fienherb is pure and vibrant adding wet stones and quince to its profile with air and shimmers in the glass with a greenish, pale golden hue, this is a fun and soulful Riesling of fine quality and value, drink now through 2026.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive