2007 Azienda Agricola Antoniolo, Gattinara DOCG (Nebbiolo) Lambardy, Italy.
This Nebbiolo is pure class and while Gattinara is not a household name such as Barolo and Barbaresco it widely accepted it is one of the top sites for this grape given a good vintage, especially for those that admire the more lively and traditional style Nebbiolo. Antoniolo is known as the king of Gattinara, so I’m not giving you a scoop here and most critics agree these wines rival any Barolo or Barbaresco, but I had not had Antoniolo in recent years and had not recalled just how fantastic these wines can be. The 2007 Gattinara is lovely, vibrant and amazingly lengthy with intense vigor and earthy charms, it shows pretty rose petals, dried flowers, trufflely earth tones, tar, licorice and mountain sweet herbs along with red currants, plum and cherry fruit. There is plenty of acidity and tannin in this young Nebbiolo and decanting is recommended if you plan to open this vintage anytime soon, but there should be great rewards for those that put a few bottles away for 3-5 years, as it surely will fill out and deepen over time. The long wild strawberry finish is remarkable and impressive and the lingering effect is much like a great burgundy in elegance and class.
($42) 93+ Points, grapelive
2009 Robinia, Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley (by Kevin Kelley)
This is an amazing wine, a long skin contact white that was aged in acacia wood that delivers an almost “orange” wine feel and look while still being a pure Sauvignon Blanc. Orange/yellow cloudy color leads to a palate of tangerine, lemon/lime and red peaches with tropical essences and spiciness. The mouth is rich, but tangy fresh with bright acidity and mineral tones plus a crisp lingering finish of candied citrus rind gooseberry. Kevin Kelley is making some of the most interesting wines out there and it is well worth tracking them down. After stints at Copain in Sonoma and Meo-Camuzet in Burgundy Kevin has created an exciting new project with his Salina label and his avante garde wines like this one.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2009 Occhipinti, Nero D’ Avola “Siccagno” IGT, Sicily (Italian Red)
The long wait for a new wine from Arianna Occhipinti is over and the 2009 Siccagno has arrived, it it was well worth the wait. The queen of the natural wine movement has graced us again with a brilliant wine that offers subtlety, grace and intrigue with the 2009 Nero D’ Avola which shows unique and fresh flavors that include lingonberry, duck fat and earthy truffle notes to go with bright blue and black fruits. While weightier that her Frappato and a bit darker in character Arianna’s Siccagno shows more delicate details than most Nero wines and highlights her gentle winemaking touch. The nose has a slight, but charming rustic edge before revealing dried flowers, herbs and lavender oil which leads to a palate of blueberry, briar, fennel and wild strawberry while hints of mineral and sage mingle in the back ground. This wine is a statement of purpose and clearly a wine that makes it’s own path and those that have followed Occhipinti will be thrilled by it.
($39 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2009 Castro y Morgan La Palma “Tendal” Vina Tinto Ecologico, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spanish Red.
This wonderful red is made up of Prieto Picudo and Negramoll grapes grown on the Island of La Palma in the Canaries, one of Spain’s most exciting wine areas. This 2009 Tendal shows perfume, spice and mineral with crisp, but forward red fruit and great acid/tannin balance making it an ideal food wine and an exotic pleasure. The Tendal is a biodynamic and organic wine that captures purity of fruit and terroir with ripe flavors and hints of iodine and crushed stones that add interest. The nose starts with dried flowers, cranberry and red pepper spices before a medium weight palate of red berry, blueberry, cherry and plum while fresh acidity heightens the wine.
($20 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2010 Capiaux, Pinot Noir “Widdoes Vineyard” Russian River Valley.
Sean Capiaux’s 2010’s are showing remarkable ripeness and depth, highlighting great grapes, farming and artisan talents with the 2010 Widdoes being a gem of a Pinot Noir. While I usually go wild for his Garys’ (out now as wll) and Pisoni (soon to be released, it is the 2010 Capiaux “Widdoes” that is showing off at this stage and it should even get better with a another year or so in bottle. The nose starts slightly closed and reduced, but quickly opens to dried flowers, lavender, tea spices and tangy red currants, wait a bit longer and mineral, smoke and kirsch come out in subtle fashion, all of which lingers while the palate holds blueberry, cola bean, baked ham and cranberry before a strong wave of cherry and raspberry fruit takes over. There is lots to love and tons to hold your attention in this savvy Pinot and showcases Sean Capiaux’s unmistakable signature richness and intrigue.
($42 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
avail. at www.sfwtc.com ($39.95)
2009 Yves Cuilleron, Saint-Joseph “Les Pierres Seches” Norther Rhone Red, France. (Syrah)
Cuilleron is a Syrah master, and does a fabulous Condrieu as well, and this 2009 Saint-Joseph is stunner with pure terroir character and savory charms. This wine shows the place and vintage in perfect fashion, and tastes like a fine Hermitage with a meaty, gamey subtlety while beautiful floral fruit flows on the medium weight and lively palate that shows fine details and mineral tones. The nose starts with violets, smoke and wild herbs plus a touch of duck fat and liqueur before a cascade of blackberry, blueberry, plum and boysenberry fruit fills the mouth. There is a nice cracked pepper essence that pops through along with garrique, lavender and licorice. With nice acidity and vigor this wine should get better over the next few years, but it is really good now showing lovely balance, fruit and length, a pure Syrah at it’s best.
($N/A Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 County Line, Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (by Eric Sussman, Radio-Coteau)
The second label of Eric Sussman, the man behind the Radio-Coteau label, known for his natural approach and balanced cool climate style wines, County Line is wine worth searching out. The 2009 was a wonderful wine for County Line, but I might rate the new 2010 a bit higher and really enjoy the pureness of it better. The 2010 County Line Pinot starts with a bright nose of red flowers, tea spices and tangy lavender before a fresh palate of raspberry, wild strawberry and tart cherry fruit along with sweet herbs, fennel, mineral and a kiss of toasty oak. This is a very nice and easy Pinot Noir in the Burgundy village way and the lingering finish of plummy fruit is extremely pleasing.
($26 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
avail. at www.sfwtc.com ($22.95)
2011 Comanderie de Peyrassol, Cotes de Provence Rose France.
I love Rose season, and it has just started with many wonderful wines just hitting our shores, here in California it is especially pleasing and this Commanderie de Peyrassol is one of the best yet. While it is hard to beat Domaine Tempier Rose and of course last year was one of the greatest vintages ever in the south of France, so there was a lot to live up to, and high expectations to meet, but with out a doubt this 2011 Peyrassol matches up and in fact at half the price of Tempier it kicks some ass in the premium Rose class, and I know for sure I’m going to enjoy many a bottle of this beauty as the weather turns warmer, in fact, I will drink it regardless as it is that good. I am known to drink Rose even in the coldest of winter months and have become a “drink pink” devotee at lunch time on my days off, and I can’t wait to pop of few corks on this one. The 2011 Commanderie de Peyrassol Rose is brighty colored with an orangey/pink hue and round watermelon, strawberry, red citrus and sour cherries burst in the glass with zesty acidity and mineral essences and hints of pepper spice. This Rose, a cuvee of Mourvedre, Grenache and other grapes, is very flavorful and tangy fresh with lots of energy and has a lovely balance.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2009 Fattoria Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany, Italy.
Felsina is one of the grand estates of Chianti and one of the true glories of Italy, located in the Southern most zone of Chianti Classico near historic Siena. Felsina makes rich and elegant wines that can be haunting and magical, especially the Fontalloro and Rancia that are both Sangiovese in the purist of expressions, but Felsina’s Chianti Classico should never be overlooked as it is a stunner and a super value. The 2009 Fattoria Felsina Chianti Classico is beautifully detailed, refined and rewarding with life, depth and balance. The nose is floral with a cast of fresh and dried flowers, tea spices, sweet herbs and tangy red currants leading to a smoothly textured palate of wild strawberries, raspberry, plum and cherry fruits with hints of licorice, tobacco leaf and mineral notes. This wine is pure finesse and grace, but still gives plenty of Chianti charm and lots of simple pleasure, making it flexible with many foods and moods.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2010 Owen Roe, Syrah “Chapel Block” Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington State.
Here is another winner from Owen Roe, again David O’Reilly has crafted a beautiful and lush Syrah that delivers rich fruit, with lively acidity and smooth tannins. The Chapel Block is new to me and I think it is the best Syrah I’ve had from Owen Roe with heady perfume, chocolate, violets, boysenberry and blueberry layers while hints of meat, leather, licorice and pepper play in the background. The long cassis and spice finish is still vibrant and fresh showcasing the fine balance in this lovely Syrah from Washington State. Owen Roe makes some intriguing wines, both from Washington and Oregon from unique vineyards and are all made in artisan fashion as natural as possible.
($56 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive