Wine of the Day November 22, 2014

2013ArnotRobertsTrout2013 Arnot-Roberts, Chardonnay, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Trout Gulch Chardonnay comes off a vineyard above Aptos in the cool south Santa Cruz Mountains, not far from the ocean on a loamy hillsides that face mostly south, this is a great site for Chardonnay and Pinot. Duncan Meyers, Arnot-Roberts winemaker loves this vineyard, now farmed by Richard Alfaro and his team, and this new 2013 is a stunning and delicate wine that has loads of drive, energy and layers of subtle fruit. This brisk, about 13% alcohol, Chardonnay is believed to be old Wente clone and there is a hidden deep concentration and complexity underneath the zippy acidity, very much like stylish white Burgundy, this is very polished and elegantly textured wine that will be pleasing young and fill out and age well. The 2013 vintage looks set to surpass 2012 in quality, which was super in the Santa Cruz region, and this is awesome and classy Chardonnay with citrus flower, honey, peach, apple and lemon leading the way with hints of golden fig, clove and verbena notes. The mouth feel even so young is inviting with hints of butter creme/butterscotch and the finish is like old school white burgundy with mineral, hazelnut and a mix of citrus and pear. This seriously delicious and well crafted wine by one of California’s brightest stars will develop nicely over the next 3 to 5 years, drink from 2015 to 2020. This Chardonnay and their two Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir offerings are amongst the most exciting of the new 2013 vintage lineup at Arnot-Roberts, be sure to check them out, along with the Syrah and Trousseau!
($54 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive


avail at

Wine of the Day November 21, 2014

2013NiglAlteReben2013 Weingut Nigl, Gruner Veltliner, Alte Reben, Kremstal, Austria.
The 2013 wines from the Wachau and Kresmstal regions are the finest and more intense I’ve seen, it might be the best vintage for Austrian whites in my generation and Nigl’s lineup is fantastic, especially this Alte Reben, which is showing purity, heightened extract and powerful acidity. This Alte Reben Gruner is amazing, it shows a dynamic force of nature, terroir and vitality way beyond the normal and will age wonderfully as well, this is special stuff, and while not inexpensive, it is a superb value and intriguing Gruner Veltliner, it is right up there with Brundlmayer and Knoll in terms of quality and stylistically. The shear force of acidity and wonderful and graceful fruit and texture will blow your mind, it is dry and gripping, but the underlying extract is impressive. The 2013 Nigl Alte Reben starts with mouth watering lime and mineral essences with hints of grapefruit, white flowers, almond oil and thai basil leading to a stony/steely palate of lemon/lime, white peach, apple-skin, papaya and sea brine with loamy earth and wild herbs. This is vivid, eye popping Gruner with citrus rind and pip bitter elements, it finishes dusty crisp and vigorously fresh, this is glorious and would be a must have with food wine, enjoy with sea food, pork and poultry and lighter not overly spicy Asian cuisine, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($43 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 20, 2014 Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day

2014FoillardBN2014 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau, Gamay, France.
The new harvest is done and now it’s time to celebrate, and of course it is always that third Thursday in November that brings the joy, Beaujolais Nouveau day, a made up holiday and worldwide party, not that we didn’t have reason to party before, but it just got better with fresh juicy Gamay, and the tradition lives on. I always sample a few of these zippy and fruity new wines, but I must say I rarely find one better than Jean Foillard’s and while playful, it certainly can be called serious wine. The 2014 is looking pretty good, I must say it is even better than the last 2 or 3 vintages, almost on par with 2009! So if you want something a bit more savvy this year, I recommend the new Foillard, it is really delicious and pretty darn stylish with good depth, length and it has a nice play of fruit and tangy savory elements. The nose is juicy fruit, waxy concord grapes, blackberry, cherry and fresh picked plum along with spice cake, walnut and red citrus and peach notes. this year has a vivid garnet hue, vibrant flavor and even a hint of tannin, with zippy acidity and crisp finish it is a light and bright red weighing in at 11.5% alcohol, making it easy to quaff. Hints of earthy loam, saline and chalk/stones add to the complexity, but enjoy it for the youthful expression of this fun Gamay, Happy Beaujolais Nouveau day! In case you might not know, Jean Foillard makes some of the great wines of Beaujolais, especially his Morgon Cote de Puy, as good as any premier cru Burgundy, and his Fleurie, which is hauntingly heavenly!
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 19, 2014

2013KRSpatMD2013 Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling, Munsterer Dautenpflanzer, Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
Georg Rumpf’s 2012’s were stunning Rieslings and these 2013’s from a much more difficult year are almost a match, especially this beautifully balanced Spatlese Munsterer Dautenpflanzer, it just might be the best Riesling for the money you can find this year. The 2013 Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Dautenpflanzer is a fine and wonderfully crafted Riesling that while a Spatlese, feels comfortably dry on the palate, the sweetness never seems out of place or heavy, the acidity and extract give the wine a dynamic presence in the mouth and lift, this is a marvelous white from the Nahe and will be a wine that will gain with age as well, though I certainly plan to enjoy more than a few bottles sooner vs later, it will be a treat with traditional San Francisco holiday crab dinners and be joyous with any foods I place in front of it. Georg’s wines deserve attention, they offer some of the best values in the Nahe and are classically styled and refined with mineral intensity, depth and elegant flare, be sure to grab all the 2012’s you can still find, but also don’t miss these 2013’s, they are lovely wines. This Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Spatlese starts with white roses, citrus blossoms and steely mineral notes along with verbena, tropical essence and yellow fruits leading to a tangy palate of honeyed grapefruit, kiwi, lime, apricot, white peach, apple and pineapple fruits, there’s a nice play of sweet, savory and mixed spice with the texture gaining weight and roundness with air, there’s the magic of sugar, giving smooth pleasing sensations behind the vigorous tension and forceful nature of the acidity and extract, this wine feels as generous and as serious as a white Burgundy with complexity, density and finesse, but is all Riesling in character and terroir. There’s some detailed nuances of minty herbs, crushed stones, sea salt/brine, loam and flinty elements that are well placed and the finish is lush, hinting at sweetness with tangerine, sorbet and lemon tart. This is again, top class stuff, it should make for lot’s of happy campers out there, this is an opulent and focused Riesling with grace and class, drink from 2016 to 2026.
($27 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 18, 2014

LassaigneLaCollineN.V. Jacques Lassaigne, Champagne “La Colline inspiree” Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Montgueux, France.
Emmanuel Lassaigne looks set to be one of Champagne’s brightest stars, this tiny grower producer in Montgueux (in Aube) does some fantastic Chardonnay Champagne from chalky limestone vineyards that have 25 to 45 year old vines. The cuvees he does are all zero dosage and mostly intensely dry Extra Brut in style, but these are seriously endowed bubbly(s) with striking opulence and depth, and while vigorous and precise they have a similarity to Krug and Vilmart with exotic notes and richness. While there is an up rise in pure Pinot Meunier in single vineyard grower Champagnes and it’s all the rage, with good reason, it is important not to forget just how great these Chardonnay wines can be, especially these Jacques Lassaigne offerings from Emmanuel Lassaigne, and in particular this sexy La Colline inspire Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs. The La Colline inspire is wood raised, one of the only wines Emmanuel does in oak, it uses old Chablis barrels, and it shows in the density and fullness, though still firmly dry and mineral driven, this is wow effect Champagne with layers of flavor and structure, beautifully detail and gorgeous from start to finish featuring lemon oil, banana, clove, steely mineral, spiced apple, pineapple and hazelnuts. Hints of saline, earth and crushed stones add to the complexity, this is a Champagne of amazing craftsmanship and controlled power with elegance and classic quality, this is blow your mind stuff, you could drink this wine still (flat) and it would never miss a beat, but with it’s heavenly mousse it is utterly glorious, it should age well too, but it would be more than difficult to be patient here, it is just stunning, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($90 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive Flashback: 1994 Dunn Howell Mountain

1994DunnHMcs1994 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley. (Magnum 1.5L)
Even sucking down the dregs of a Magnum that had been open the night before the Dunn 1994 Howell Mountain was stunning and seemingly at it’s peak, I would highly suggest if you have 1991, 1992, 1993 or this 1994 Dunn in your cellar you start popping corks, I think it is time on these great wines. I’m grateful to John Fluhmann, a client with a soft spot for Bordeaux and classic Napa Cabs, he bought this Mag in and let myself and a colleague finish it off, that was kind and very helpful for us to see where this wine was at, it was also good as we both are Dunn fans and this was splendid stuff and wonderfully open and enjoyable. These early nineties Dunn’s are sublime, and at 13% or under at times, they are very Bordeaux like and intensely flavored with lots of dark fruit, tannin and glorious length. This 1994, a great vintage, shows maturity now, at year 20, and everything there is here is ready to go and wonderfully displayed at this point. The nose is floral, mineral driven with spice, cedar and even a hint of game leading to a palate of black and red currants, minty herbs, plum, blackberry, creme de cassis, dried flowers, leather and cherry, along with licorice, loamy/earth stones and tobacco/cigar wrapper. There is a hint of smoky wood, but everything is folded together nicely, it almost tastes like Haut-Brion mixed with Beychevelle it has the mineral essence of Pessac along with a bit of tar, clay tang of the outer Medoc, but still a fruit driven Napa wine of great detail and class, hats off to Randy Dunn, this wine is a glorious legacy, drink now through 2018. This is a brilliant Cabernet Sauvignon, I love these mature Howell Mountain wines, this is sublime, I hope I get a few more chances to enjoy these great California wines, Dunn, Ridge and Diamond Creek all rival the world’s best, especially the early nineties offerings, which still can be found and not at terrible prices, in fact some or below current release prices of top wineries.
($300+ Est. Magnum, $100-200 in 750ml Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 17, 2014

2012CarillonAligote2012 Francois Carillon, Bourgogne Aligote, White Burgundy, France.
Aligote is the other white Burgundy, usually quickly forgotten and while sometime pleasant, is rarely given much attention, even by me. Thankfully, I was at Oakland’s Bay Grape while Stevie was giving her Sunday wine class, this week was White Burgundy, she had picked out a killer lineup of offerings, and her husband, ex Michael Mina Somm, Josiah sampled me on this fabulous Carillon Aligote, if you are ever in Oakland head down to Grand Ave and check out Bay Grape, it is a great place to shop or pop a bottle with friends. The 2012 Francois Carillon Aligote is one of the best and most interesting versions of this varietal I’ve come across in a long time, up there with Ramonet and de Villiane, and it held my attention with wonderful depth and density, being both clear and vivid plus having a rich creamy round feel on the palate, I’m certain the small yields and vintage gives this wine it’s character, but then again it is grown in one of the world’s great terrors, Puligny-Montrachet. Carillon’s other wines from this vintage certainly must be out of this world, and I’d make a mental note to score a few bottles of his Chardonnay based wines too. The Aligote starts with citrus, with lemon/lime and gathers pear and apple notes along with a touch of butterscotch and creme, it seems simple and direct, but there’s wonderful texture and finesse with extra complexity lingering on the finish with hints of nutmeg, fig and clove. I would not count on too much aging potential, but I like the concentration and lovely mouth-feel now, this is serious good Aligote, drink from 2014 to 2017.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 16, 2014

2013DaulnyClos2013 Domaine Daulny, Sancerre, Le Clos de Chaudenay, Loire Valley, France.
This tremendous effort from Etienne Daulny is stunning and is beautiful Sauvignon Banc, one of the finest offerings to date from his Domaine Daulny in Chaudenay-Verdigny en Sancerre. Imported by Charles Neal, who I’m again grateful to for dropped in and sharing this gorgeous white, he finds some amazing country wines, and great values as well, such as and especially as this Daulny. Etienne does a few cuvees and a base Sancerre, but this Le Clos de Chaudenay is absolutely sublime and very vivid and drinks fantastic with lots of stylish charm. From a once walled plot of old vine Sauvignon Blanc grown on Chablis like limestone soils, the La Clos de Chaudenay is bursting with energy, vigor and is has a cascade of bright flavors with loads of mineral complexity. The nose starts with white flowers, citrus and wet river stones leading to a vibrant palate of lemon/lime, gooseberry, white peach, grapefruit, chalky/steely mineral, tangy herb, a hint of leesy extract, saline and a trace of tropical essence. This Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and zesty, but does show good depth, roundness and length, making for a lovely Sancerre, drink from 2014 to 2019, one of my favorite under $30 Sancerres in years, you should check this one out, it is in league with Boulay and Chotard.
($22 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 15, 2014

2010LapeyreBearn2010 Domaine Lapeyre, Bearn, Southwest France.
The Bearn region is in the wilds of Southwestern France close to the Pyrenees and it’s capital city is Pau, it is part of both Gascony and Basque country. This is one of the old Provinces of France, in fact it is a historic place and restful, it was the birthplace of Alexandre Duma’s main character d’Artagnan from his tale of The Three Musketeers, and it is the home of some exciting wines. The area has mostly Tannat, but also allows Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the A.O.C, and while Tannat can be rustic, robust and raw, here it is made with more polish and more, shall we say, like Bordeaux with finesse and it is certainly less bold/shocking than Madiran and the Basque versions. Domaine Lapeyre, made by Pascal Lapeyre, is well crafted with stylish layers, he has embraced this powerful black grape, Tannat, and tamed it in his wines, the 2010 is an exceptional example from a wonderful vintage, he used about 60% Tannat, and the rest being a balance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, it shows the nature of the place and beautiful refined detail. Tannat is groaning in popularity, both in the new world and in it’s spiritual old world home in the Pyrenees, it can be found in Uruguay in South American and also in California, it has become an interesting blending grape in the central coast, finding it’s way into Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon “A Proper Claret” and it does well in Torrin’s deep reds from Paso Robles where it really shows well. Pascal Lapeyre’s 2010 Bearn shows deep garnet/black color, mountain blackberry, poached plum, dusty cherry and currant fruits along with hints of truffle, game, anise, pepper and cedar spices, along with coffee bean, wild herb, a hint of bell pepper and vanilla. This is a deep and tannic red, but it flows smoothy across the palate and has a nice lengthy finish, this is very impressive country wine, far more interesting than most Bordeaux in this price range, and a lovely showing for Tannat, a grape that you’ll hear more about in coming years, drink this Frenchie from 2014 to 2019, imported by Tannat crazed Charles Neal in San Francisco, who I am grateful to for showing me this fun wine.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 14, 2014

2013Arnot-RobertsSyrah2013 Arnot-Roberts, Syrah, North Coast.
This is another winner from Arnot-Roberts and super tasty value, a vivid and old world style Syrah that has plenty of class and spiciness, but still shows the smooth ripe tannins of California, making for very pretty wine. It is hard not to get excited by these new Arnot-Roberts, all of these 2013 wines are fantastic, stylish and elegantly crafted with sharp focus and subtlety. While not light, they show a lighter touch and remarkable restraint with lower alcohol levels, all this without missing a beat on flavor and density, a wonderful display of touch and talent, especially in the 2013 North Coast Syrah which shows deep violets, kirsch, cassis, bacon/meaty savory elements, cracked pepper, olive tapenade, camphor, mineral, saline and licorice along with a core of blueberry, boysenberry and plum fruit. This is a not to miss wine if you A. like Syrah and B. if you are an Arnot-Roberts fan, the finish is delightfully lengthy with refined tannins, black currant and cedar lingering on, drink from 2015 to 2018.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


avail at ($39.95)