2010 Hippolyte Reverdy, Sancerre Rouge, Loire Valley.
Soft, delicate and refined Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley with light and elegant flavors of rose petals, cherry and plum with smoky mineral essences and tea spices. Hippolyte Reverdy is a wonderful producer in Sancerre and is known for their Sauvignon, but this rare Pinot Noir is a very lovely wine with remarkable finesse and grace. While it’s beauty is charming and dreamy this is not wine that will appeal to everyone, especial those looking for a big Pinot or a showy wine, as it is a whispering red that is extremely supple and transparent with a pale color. This is a wine that leaves a ghost like impression on the palate, but lingers on and on with subtle fruit and floral notes.
($26 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2011 Le Pigeoulet en Provence, Blanc Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, Rhone White, France.
This is the best yet from Brunier’s Pigeoulet, and a super white wine made from Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Clairette, all of which are varietals that are found in Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc and that add depth and character to this pretty and filling white wine from Provence. The nose starts with citrus blossom and mineral tones leading to a rewarding palate of citrus, apple, apricot and tangerine along with wet stones, spice and lime. The wine opens wide and round in the mouth, but keeps driving with lively acidity making for a lovely balanced wine that leaves a soft clarified cream and tropical essence aftertaste. Don’t overlook this Rhone style wine if you see it and enjoy it for the next few years. Imported by Kermit Lynch, who is also part owner of this label.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($17.95)
2010 Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
This wonderfully expressive Chateauneuf has pure and rich flavors and is vigorous with firm and balanced structure. Without cumbersome oak, this tank raised Rhone has loads of Grenache red fruits with touches of earth, hot bricks and peppery spices while doses of Syrah and Mourvedre give black fruits, plum sauce and forcefulness in the mid palate. 2010 is again proving it’s greatness across the board, but especially in these Southern Rhone wines like this pretty and lush Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge from the great performing Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique line of wines. Lingering grenadine, boysenberry, chalky minerals and garrique add to the luster and pleasure in this fine and full bodied wine.
($45 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine Felines Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc White, France.
It is strange and somewhat funny to write about such a summery wine in the cold rain of San Francisco, but such was the quality and seductive power of this little Picpoul, to bring me to a warm Southern France that I could not think of another wine to celebrate day. Domaine Felines Jourdan was new to me, imported by Return to Terroir here in the Bay Area, and I will certainly be keeping my eye out for them, as this beautiful dry 2011 Picpoul de Pinet is a charmer for sure with bright citrus, stone fruit and chalky mineral tones and a refreshing crisp finish that allows apricot and peach essences to linger, but leaves a nice saline and mouth watering feeling that begs for another sip. Picpoul has a whole has seen a great rise in quality and distinction in the last few years and I have loved the wines from Gaujal and Mas Dumas Gassac, but this Felines Jourdan might be my new favorite, it has the feel of a fine Basque white with lime and mineral, plus some roundness like a Chateauneuf blank, all in a very affordable package. This is a wonderful effort, and I can’t wait to have warm days to enjoy again soon.
($14 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau, France.
The third Thursday of November is the legal day to start celebrating the years harvest with the day Beaujolais is released and it has become a day to party and enjoy the graces of Gamay. Most often you see garish Duboeuf bottles, but sometimes you find gems like Foillard and while 2012 looks to be a difficult vintage across France, Foillard’s Nouveau is a pretty wine and has subtle complexity with blackberry, cherry and tangerine citrus flavors with hints of pepper and herbs. Jean Foillard, in case you hadn’t heard of makes some of the finest wines in the region from his winery in Morgon, his Cru Beaujolais are stunning wines and are regarded as some of the best Gamay wines made, period. I think he is my favorite and I always grab as many as I can get, and his fun Nouveau is a wine I look forward to and enjoy over the holidays. Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrating it’s 30 years of celebrating this year and I look forward to many more, especially with Foillard’s examples of this light and bright fruity red.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
Imported by Kermit Lynch
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($18)
2009 Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia, Bolgheri Rosso DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
One of the world’s great wines, Sassicaia is almost a no brainer, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting to try it, in fact it always is a thrill to taste Sassicaia and I was especially jazzed by this 2009 vintage as it shows a lighter step and more elegance in it’s youth than any other Sassicaia I’ve sampled. This vintage shows almost a Haut-Brion or Chateau Margaux class with amazing length and delicate detail, which I might put down to the blend of this year’s wine being about 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, even though that is a guess as Sassicaia’s cuvee is somewhat secret. The addition of Franc gives this wine a touch more open fruit, perfume and a hint of spice, while the Cabernet Sauvignon is the force and depth behind this magical wine. The bouquet is of acacia flowers, blueberry, smoke and hints at cassis and graphite leading to a medium to full palate of blackberry, cherry, plum and currant fruits with licorice, pencil lead, mineral tones and kirsch all floating in the background. The texture is fantastic and mouth-filling, without heaviness or flab, making for a sublime wine of life and balance. Look for this wine to fill out a bit more in bottle and drink well for the next decade. While not a powerhouse or a blockbuster flashy wine, this vintage Sassicaia is pure class and style, and for me, nearly perfect.
($200 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2009 Ojai Vineyard, Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley.
It was a pleasure to taste through a big lineup of Ojai wines again and see how Adam Tolmach’s style has progressed in recent vintages. I must say, they still are very much terroir and elegant wines with nice balance and lovely textures, I really enjoyed the Bien Nacido Chardonnay, Fe Ciega Pinot Noir and Presidio Pinot Noir, but I especially liked this 2009 Bien Nacido Syrah. The Ojai Syrah wines have always impressed me, the Roll Ranch and White Hawk versions being some of my all time favorites, and this Bien Nacido is pure and intriguing with black olives, smoke, mineral and violets that seduce the nose leading to a palate of truffle, game and licorice notes behind forceful blueberry and boysenberry fruit and balancing acidity. This wine has plenty of depth and charm with a full body and lengthy finish with flashes of white pepper and kirsch adding complexity as well. This gem should drink nicely for another 4-6 years, but is fresh and brightly flavored now and extremely enjoyable now.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Weingut Leitz, Riesling “Rudesheimer” Trocken, Rheingau, Germany.
The 2011 vintage Leitz wines all are wonderful examples of terroir and pure Rieslings, especially Johannes Leitz’s beautiful dry Riesling from vines near the hamlet of Rudesheim overlooking the Rhein River. The 2011 Rudesheimer Riesling Trocken is brisk and electric with tangy flavors and citrus zest acidity sizzles behind fresh fruit and mineral essences with lime and orange flowers, grapefruit and green apples while flinty slate rocky notes coat the palate and saline umami makes your mouth water. This good easily be a Gross Gewachs and shows just how great the Rheingau can be for dry wines as well as all levels of sweet styles. Look for this wine, it will be hard to find, but worth the search and very rewarding now and for the next 3 to 5 years in bottle no question.
($22 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2009 Kurt Darting, Gewurztraminer, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Kabinett , Pfalz, Germany.
This beautiful mostly dry Gewurz is an aromatic and spicy white that delivers pure varietal character and elegance making for an extremely pleasurable wine. Darting again shows it’s class with “Other” varietals and shows the Pfalz terroir is perfect for diversity and expressions beyond the glorious Rieslings that are produced in the region. 2009 was an excellent vintage in Germany and fairly ripe, but Darting got this wine near perfect with lovely bright flavors and mineral chalkiness adding to the fantastic bouquet of jasmine, honeysuckle and rose oil the proves seductive and haunting through out with a palate of peach, lychee, peppered apple sauce and tropical citrus. The subtle sweetness and perfume make this a natural for Thai and Asian foods, but it would be a super Thanksgiving wine with roast turkey and or honey baked ham. This vintage might be harder to find, but 2011 was also super vintage for this wine and should be more widely available at this point, though if you do see this one, grab a few bottles.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2010 Forteto Della Luja “Le Grive” Monferrato Rosso DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
It is hard not to love Forteto della Luja’s Le Grive, this Monferrato red is a blend of Barbera and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) along with a tiny amount of other black grapes and is a very unique cuvee that shows loads of dark fruit, round silky texture and some cedary wood notes and richness. The Barbera’s blackberry and sweet plumy weight shine here, though it never feels too heavy as the acidity is pushing bright and vibrant flavors forward with cherry and currants on the palate with hints of spice, vanilla and mineral tones. This makes for a very interesting red that would be great with pasta, duck and porcini mushroom dishes, and without question this is a fine and unique wine. Enjoy this one for the next 3 to 5 years, but I love the freshness and vigor it shows now, so I’d suggest drinking on the sooner side.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($29.95)