Wine of the Day March 21, 2015

2013SaladinPN2013 Saladin cellars, Pinot Noir, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.
The new Saladin Pinot Noir from Keller Estate’s La Cruz Vineyard in the southwest end of the Petaluma Gap is youthfully lush, decedent and richly flavored, made in a modern style that fans of Kosta Browne, Black Kite, Walter Hansel and Sojourn will love. This Saladin release, is their first Pinot Noir, they make a Dunn inspired Howell Mountain Cabernet and bottled a fresh stainless steel aged Pinot Gris from La Cruz as well, and certainly all the wines deserve merit and attention, especially this Pinot Noir made from ripe grapes, de-stemmed and aged in a mix of new and neutral French oak. The 2013 Saladin La Cruz comes in at about 14.5% and has lots of texture, and is very hedonistic without feeling over weight or ponderous with good fresh acidity, coming from this cool and windswept site that allows slow ripening and deep color development, for a first time effort this Pinot comes out a solid offering and a winner. I tasted through the same vintage Sojourn recently as well, all rated between 90 and 95 Points by Parker and this Saladin was right there with them step by step, in fact I honestly would score this one a couple of ticks higher myself. The Saladin La Cruz starts with sweet raspberry, currants and dusty mocha notes with hints of floral tones and vanilla leading to a palate of black cherry, plum and cranberry fruits along with tea, clove, juicy red peach, mineral/stony elements and creamy soft wood (supple tannins) and Christmas spices, everything is still coming together here, I think more restraint and class will show up with bottle age, the oak notes will fold in and play a backseat framing and complex secondary elements will emerge with patience. This will be a very limited release, and looks set to be offered direct, but worth checking out and making the extra effort to find it, drink from 2016 to 2020, this has impressive form and style and is pure Californian in nature, this is well made Pinot that makes the grade and then some.
($45 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 20, 2015

2013KrugerRumpfScheurebe2013 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spatlese Nahe Germany.
Georg Rumpf’s gorgeous 2013 Scheurebe is one compelling wine, and one of best  examples of this grape in all of Germany, and it is stunner in the glass with a light golden hue. While a Spatlese, and pleasingly fruity/opulent, this wine is not cloyingly heavy in any way, but instead wonderfully balanced with vibrancy and purity of fruit. The Kruger-Rumpf’s Scheurebe bouquet is a perfumed expression of the varietal with delicate jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom, this is highly alluring, but still restrained and refined that plays with your senses offering hints of sweetness against some savory notes, along with loam and stoney contrasts. Maybe the secret to the class found here is that it comes from great terroir, primarily Munster Dautenpflanzer, a Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) site set in quartzite and loess clay soils and quite high up on the steep slopes, adding to the elegant flavors and driving focus. The mouth feel is medium weighted, but lush in texture with good extract/density with beautifully lifted and vibrant fruit, lemon, creamy melon, nectarine and honeyed pear all playing parts. Nice light mineral essences, chalky stone and Asian spice with exotic tropical as well, and while everything flows smoothly, there is plenty of vigor and life here with firm acidic structure, and a refreshing salt lick and crispness come through on the finish with the faint echo of honeycomb sweetness lingering on. Drink this beauty of a nectar over the next 3 to 5 years, this stuff is very sexy, best from 2015 to 2022.
($28 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 19, 2015

2013TatomerPN2013 Tatomer, Pinot Noir, Duvarita, Santa Barbara County.
Grahame Tatomer, best known for his wonderful Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, is releasing his first Pinot Noir and it’s a fabulous inaugural effort and a wine worth searching out, especially as only 150 cases were made. Tatomer’s Riesling offerings are some of North America’s finest dry offerings, along with his stylish Gruners, so it was interesting to see what he could do with Pinot Noir, and he’s hit the ground running with a flavorful and balanced wine, from the cool Duvarita site, it shows good depth, bright intensity and restrained alcohol (13%), it reminds me a little of Radio-Coteau and it should be rewarding in the bottle for another 3 to 5 years easy. Duvarita, formerly the Presidio Vineyard, is even father west of the Sta. Rita Hills near Lompoc, with sandy soils and cool windy Pacific influences giving this area great conditions for deep Pinot Noir and Tatomer has done a superb job with his 2013. The Duvarita starts with a dark ruby/red hue, showing hints of dark berry, floral notes and cedary spices leading to a palate of pure Pinot fruit along with black cherry, blueberry, plum and raspberry layers with minty herb tea, cinnamon stick, anise and a fine mineral and chalk dust element, it finishes with vitality and brightness, but lingers with strawberry and pomegranate and a hint of cola bean. This is a lovely wine with soft tannins and good acidity, it was aged in neutral barrel for 18 months, and it should gain a bit more character and charm with another 6 to 8 months of bottle age and should drink well for another 5 to 7 years, best from 2016 to 2020.
($50 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 18, 2015

2012SheaPNEstate2012 Shea Wine Cellars, Pinot Noir, Estate, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
One of Oregon’s top vineyard sites and one of the best deals in top flight American Pinot Noir, Shea is must have wine, especially in such a great vintage as 2012 has turned out to be in Oregon. This dark and rich Pinot is a blend of many unique blocks and clones including Wadenswil, the old Swiss clone, Pommard and some new clone 777, which adds to the layers of complexity in this wine. Blackberry and dark cherry fruit leads the way with loam and chalky mineral, crushed violets, minty herb, plum and strawberry comes through on the mid palate along with cola, sweet oak notes, tea and cedary spices, firms up on the finish making for a vigorous and elegant Pinot Noir. Richard Shea’s vines supply top fruit to many a famous winery, list seems endless with Beauz Freres, St. Innocent, Penner-Ash and Rapter Ridge being just a few, along with Sine Qua Non and other Californian Pinot specialists getting grapes from this amazing site in Yamhill-Carlton. 2012 is a vintage to own, it was one of Oregon’s best and should be a cellar classic, and for your money, you should get some Shea Estate, without question St. Innocent and Shea are two of the best values in Oregon Pinot. This 2012 highlights the detail and richness a top vintage can deliver here, at 14.3% this is a full and dense wine, without heavy or sweet character, there is nice intensity of fruit, good mineral elements, a beautiful dark color and a long blueberry tinged finish. There’s supple tannins, lifting acidity and a taught frame in this wine, best to let things develop for a few years if you can wait, drink from 2017 to 2024.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 17, 2015

2013RoarChardSMV2013 Roar, Chardonnay, Sierra Mar Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The Sierra Mar Vineyard, part of the Franscioni estate along with Rosella’s Vineyard, and farmed in partnership with Gary Pisoni and family, is Gary Franscioni’s newest and most scenic vineyard set back in the Santa Lucia Highlands looking down on Garys’ Vineyard and with higher elevation. This site is just coming into it’s own and these 2013 vintage wines are really some of the best, most complex and most balanced offerings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Roar label, though I have long thought the Syrah’s were some of the best in the region. Recent changes in winemaking and with the vines getting some age have paid off here, especially charming in the set of 2013 wines, is the fantastic Sierra Mar Chardonnay which is now on par with the Rosella’s with wonderful vivid layers, bright fruit, mineral essence and textural magic with rich mouth feel, but not heavy, this is superb stuff and well worth searching out. The 2013 Sierra Mar starts with fresh citrus blossoms and fruit, wild heather, a touch of matchstick and wet stones leading to a vibrant palate of lemon, pineapple, green apple and spiced pear fruits along with chalk, saline, soft wood notes, a touch of cream and light fig and hint of smoke. The overall effect is one of poise and elegance, though very much in keeping with the region’s terroir, this a very good Santa Lucia Highlands Chard, well made, pleasing and focused, I admire the energy and harmony in this vintage, drink from 2015 to 2020. Roar looks headed in the right direction and have a some talented hands in the cellar with Scott Shapley putting his touch on the current set of wines, following in the big shoes left by Ed Kutzman and Siduri’s Adam Lee, and so far it seems he’s done a great job and is refining the estate style. I really look forward to see the fall release of Syrah, which have grown to be my favorite in the Roar lineup, but besides this really entertaining Chardonnay, the Roar Garys’ Pinot, the SLH Pinot and the Sierra Mar Pinot are all top notch too.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 16, 2015

2013WeinbachSchlossberg2013 Domaine Weinbach, Riesling Schlossberg, Grand Cru, Alsace France.
With the tragic loss of Laurence, Weinbach’s beautiful and gifted winemaker last year and the recent passing of the matriarch Catherine, Domaine Weinbach has suffered and the family is in our hearts. I have long been a fan of these wines and it was very sad to hear this last years terrible news, I really admire this Domaine and the class and level of quality, and the latest releases are simply stunning especially the Rieslings. The 2013 Weinbach Schlossberg Grand Cru is beautifully detailed with dynamic freshness and vibrancy showing bright citrus, white flowers, light rose petals, spice and mineral tones flowing from the start. The palate is vivid with lemon/lime, white peach, tangy apricot and tangerine along with dry sea salt, flinty stones and clove spiciness, everything feels tight and focused, though there is hidden density and richness that will come out over the next 3 to 5 years. This is gorgeous Riesling that gives lots of energy and youthful pleasure now, but should and will develop into a majestic wine, and certainly it will deserve more attention. This example of dry Riesling is more acid driven than in years past, but still has great levels of extract and complexity, it has layers of everything you’d ever want or need in a great wine, it is really impressive stuff, I highly recommend putting some of this and the other 2013 Rieslings in your cellar and drink over the next 10 years, best from 2016 to 2022.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 15, 2015

2007Guimaro2007 Guimaro, Mencia, B2M, Ribiera Sacra, Galicia Spain.
After tasting all the currant releases of Pedro Guimaro’s, Jose Pastor his importer, brought out this gorgeous 2007 vintage B2M Mencia to try, and wow, it was drinking perfectly with a great array of flavors and complexity, showing some mature notes, but with lots of vigor and vibrancy. Guimaro’s wines from from vineyards in Spain’s wild northwest, first treasured by the Romans and the Ribiera Sacra looks more like the sleep river valleys of German’s wine country than anywhere else in Spain you could imagine, this is beautiful and haunting landscape, and this area and the Ribeiro are region that produce some of Spain’s most elegant and interesting wines, epecially Mencia, Brancellao, Caíño Longo, Ferrol, Caíño Redondo, Sousón and Garnacha Tintorera, for reds and Godello, Albarino, Treixadura, Torrontés and Loureiro in the whites. The Guimaro B2M 2007 is showing beautifully with sultry layers of racy fruit, mineral, spice and a touch of game/animal, in fact this Mencia reminds me of a Chinon, a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc with a leather horsey note, chalky stones and dried violets. The color is dark garnet with a bright edge, the nose is earthy with hints of flowers, truffle, sandal wood and red currants, while the palate shows red cherry, tangy plum, blackberry and porcini along with cedar, bell pepper, minty herbs and a faint touch of brettiness that I hope is not going to get bigger. Those that need fruity ultra clean wines will not be thrilled, but old school and natural wine drinkers will absolutely love this, especially fans of old Rhones or the mentioned Loire old school producers, I like the latest Guimaro wines a tad better as they has less old barrel influence, but this is a stylish, mature and classy effort that really impresses, this is good stuff. The new Guimaro lineup is pretty fantastic, from is Godello based white to all of his 2011, 2012 and 2013 Mencia offerings, so I highly recommend searching these wines out. It was great meeting Pedro Guimaro, getting to understand the vineyards and regions in Galicia, so a big thank you to Farm Wines, Jose Pastor Selections and San Francisco Wine Trading Company (my day job) for putting on this great tasting! I can’t wait to visit this part of Spain, especially after tasting these wines!
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 14, 2015

2014MeyerNakelRose2014 Weinhaus Meyer-Nakel, Rose of Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) AHR Germany.
Werner Nakel along with his daughters Meike and Dorte make some of Germany’s most acclaimed Pinot Noir or Spatburgunder from their estate in the AHR region in one of Germany’s most northerly river wine area grown on ancient slate soils and steep vineyards. Werner, know as the Red Baron, for his world class and Grand Cru Pinot Noir is letting his Daughter have a bit more influence these days and the wines which are amazing across the range are getting a more feminine touch and the power and oak treatment are being tamed a little, this dial back is not taking away anything from the glorious complexity and detail, but folding the wines into a fresher style. While their slate driven Pinots catch most of the attention, their Rose is one of Germany’s best too, along with Schossgut Diel of the Nahe, this Rose of Pinot Noir is bursting with vibrant energy and flavors with a smoky/spicy intensity along with tangy strawberry and sour cherry fruits. The mineral tones really make this bright pinkish/orange Rose and it starts with wilted roses, pepper and raspberry leading to a zesty palate of red citrus, watermelon, strawberry, plum and tart cherry along with wet stones and smoky flint spice plus exotic herbs and floral tea elements. There is a good fruity detail, but this is a dry and an acid vivid Rose with a great play of sweet and savory that lingers on the finish and is tangy refreshing. The aftertaste brings you back to true Pinot fruit a hint of tannin and a dried currant and blueberry note along with a crisp citrusy tanginess, this is wonderful stuff, can’t wait to enjoy it over the coming year, it should be available in May of 2015 in the USA, imported by Rudi Wiest, drink from 2015 to 2017.
($29 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 13, 2015

2010LaSpinettaBarbera2010 La Spinetta, Barbera D’ Asti DOCG, Ca’ Di Pian, Piedmonte, Italy.
This is great stuff, and I’ve always admired this bottling of Barbera from Giorgio Rivetti, along with his wonderful Barbaresco Crus and the very special Gallina Barbera. It’s always been the Ca’ Di Pian that I come back to every year to enjoy, it’s a comfort wine for me, it offers up dark flavors, mineral notes and a bit of earthy rusticness that appeals to me and the 2010 really stands out. The Ca’ Di Pian by La Spinetta starts a little awkward and slightly funky with a touch of reduction showing hoisin sauce, a hint of beef’s blood and alcohol warm, but give it a few minutes and there’s a rush of fruit, spice and complexity in the glass with blackberry, figs and morello cherry along with spiced plum and wild fennel/anise and stony/graphite, while time allows even more complex flavors of blueberry, dried flowers, coffee grinds, loam and cedar/sandalwood to come into play. The Ca’ Di Pian comes from vines that average 25 plus years, it gets 12 months of wood aging, another 6 months in steel vats before bottling, it is given time to mature before release, this vintage hits about 14% and is pretty full bodied. The color is deep with and purple core and garnet/red edges and there’s good depth on the palate with supple ripe tannins, a juicy soft acidity and a nice play between sweet fruit and savory elements, this is one of La Spinetta’s most raw and traditional wines, it has it’s own charms and rough edges, but is always a crowd pleaser and a great wine with cuisine, whether it is risotto, pasta or just a deli grab bag this Barbera brings a smile to your face, for years I used to give this wine as gifts, everyone of my friends knew and loved the Rhino wine, and I always try and have some bottles around, La Spinetta really put Barbera on the serious wine stage back in the 90’s and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. While Rivetti’s Barbaresco and Barolo (since 2000) continue to be some of the world’s great wines, his Barbera continues to be one of his best and most fun wines, this and his Moscato D’ Asti really should never be missed. The Ca’ Di Pian 2010 should age another 3 to 5 years easy, but it is pretty darn lovable right now, be sure to give it a chance to feel some air first then just quaff this superb and lovely Barbera, best from 2015 to 2018.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day March 12, 2015

2009MortetGCVV2009 Domaine Denis Mortet, Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes” Red Burgundy, France.
I have been a long time fan of the Mortet wines and it was an unexpected pleasure to find myself with such a treat the other night, a big thank you to local collector and friend Fred Daniels for sharing. Domaine Denis Mortet has seen it’s ups and downs and the tragic loss of Denis Mortet by his own hands, but has been revitalized by his son Arnaud, who has put lots of hard work into the vineyards and passion into the winemaking since his father’s death in 2006. The wines now seem to be in good hands and are as good as I ever remember them, especially this old vine Gevrey-Chambertin, this is gorgeous stuff and shows classic layers of fruit, mineral and earthy character. Sadly now it is the importer that is going through a bit of upheaval and it is hard to find these wines through normal channels, in fact there has been a surge in grey market sales of Mortet, a few clients have reported recently being offered these wines ultra cheap, as low as $35 per bottle on pre arrival or at online wine auction sites, maybe the rising dollar has played a part? I would use wine-searcher to find the wine, and be careful to trust your instincts, but it would be a killer deal on a great bottle of wine. The 2009 Vieilles Vines Gevrey-Chambertin by Arnaud Mortet starts with a mixed of earth and floral tones with a deep ruby hue in the glass with red currant, roses and meaty notes as well before a rich palate of black cherry, raspberry and plum fruits, rocky and wet loam, chalk and truffle along with cedar, anise and tangy tea spices all play roles and there is ripe intensity, but with air everything folds together, gets tight and focused making for an impressive drinking young red Burgundy experience. This wine certainly is showing a willingness to perform and gives a lot of pleasure, this is a fine and well crafted effort, while not on the level of Perrot-Minot or Rousseau it is right up there with Maume, especially in this vintage, and is a good solid bet for mid term aging, best from 2016 to 2020.
($79-100 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive