2013 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Trocken, Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg “Ehrenfels” VDP Grosse Lage (Grosses Gewachs) Rheingau, Germany.
This absolutely gorgeous dry Riesling comes from steep slopes near the castle above the Rhein in Rudesheim’s Berg Schlossberg Cru one of the top sites in region and one I’m particularly fond of having walked this vineyard in person back in 2009, one of the greatest vineyard hikes ever! This spot gets great exposure with terraced plots and stress slate soils making it a perfect place for intense dry wines and Johannes Leitz has nailed with this 2013, this is a magical offering is damn near perfect with great extract, acidity and detail. The Leitz Grosses Gewachs Ehrenfels Schlossberg starts with lime, white flowers, orchard fruits, saline and flinty spices leading to a vibrant and vivid palate with white peach, apricot, green apple and mixed citrus, but coming back to lime and tangerine as well as mango along with wet shale, briny notes and white tea/herbal elements. This wine is very young, electric and bristling with energy and power with amazing depth, charm and length, and while I’ll always love his Kabinett and Spatlese, Johannes is proving to be as excellent in these top end dry examples too, drink from 2017 to 2028.
($57 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2014 Dehlinger, Rose of Pinot Noir, Estate, Russian River Valley.
Here’s a super fun wine from Dehlinger, a smooth Pinot Noir Rose that has nice dry Pinot fruit and is wonderfully textured. From estate vines in the Russian River the rare Dehlinger pink, with some 2 or 3 barrels made, is a bright and flavorful Rose with tangy/sour cherry, strawberry and watermelon fruits up front along with sweet herbs, rose water, a hint of mixed spices, nutmeg/cinnamon, a late burst of citrus and red peach. There’s not a lot of mineral or brisk intensity that you’d find in more purist examples, but that is certainly not a complaint as this fine Rose is very lush and pleasing on the palate with a lovely silky feel and the fruit is focused and lingering without being too fruity or flabby, this was well crafted and is a super addition to Dehlinger’s already impressive lineup. This highly quaffable pink is a very hard find, but worth the search, as only 15 to 20 cases are going to hit retail locations. This Rose is medium dark with vivid hues and looks terrific in the glass and has enough natural acidity to be seriously refreshing, but with enough rich, almost decadent, to be good with a full menu, this would be perfect with 4th of July parings, drink now and greedily!
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2010 Podversic Damijan, Ribolla Gialla, Venezia Giulia IGT Bianco, Gorizia, Italy.
This juicy and savory Ribolla Gialla is close to an orange wine with lots of skin contact and a golden hue in the glass, but not as funky as some making it a great introduction to the style, as it drinks easy and fresh with subtle dried herb and zesty citrus. Fermented on the skins for 60 to 90 days and aged in cigar/cone barrels for almost 2 years on the lees, no batonage, bottled and rested another 6 months before shipping, there is almost no added sulphur and the wine is as natural as it gets. The Podversic Damijan bursts from the glass with lemon/lime, rose oil, tangerine and melon notes leading the way with wet river stones, verbena, minty/spicy herbs, peach pit, apricot flesh and a mix of sour rind, candied dried citrus and chalk dust in the background. This complex white will certainly keep you guessing, it has an edgy serious side, but still offers refreshment and joyous vitality, drink now and for another 3 to 5 years as it is structured to age. This is a very compelling expression of a skin contact white, and while Ribolla Gialla gives more yellow, it is a fine example of an orange wine, best from 2015 to 2021.
($49 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Pierre Guillemot, Savigny Aux Gravains 1er Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The Pierre Guillemot 2013’s are gorgeous wines, I think they really eclipse their 2010 and 2012 wines and are great values, especially the normal Bourgogne and this beautiful Premier Cru Savigny Aux Gravains, a site and cuvee I’ve never tried from Guillemot’s offering before, what a fantastic new discovery! Domaine Pierre Guillemot, imported by Kermit Lynch, is an old school, traditional bastion of quality and value and are great drinking Burgundies for Burgundy lovers, not necessarily collectors, but people that just love enjoying good wines and want to taste true terroir, they do a couple of whites, but the focus is red and the small plot offering are all worth checking out, but if you can get your hands on the Gravains in particular for the 2013 you’ll be doing yourself a huge service, this is a stunningly detailed and pretty Pinot Noir that stands out. The 2013 Savigny Aux Gravains Premier Cru Rouge starts with hints of violets, rose petal and kirschwasser with sweet herb, forest mushroom and dark berry leading to a palate of black cherry, plum, wild raspberry and tangy currant fruits in this ruby hued Burgundy along with chalky stones, light mineral, saline, anise and tilled earth. This medium bodied effort shows real presence in the glass, poised and elegant, but with solid structure, silky tannins and typical acidity all in a flowing wine with vitality and refinement, this is one of the most complete and pleasing Guillemot Premier Cru wines I’ve ever had, the sublime floral tones and wonderful texture with just the right amount of savory elements and finesse make this a seductive and charming Burgundy, this really is brilliant stuff, drink from 2017 to 2023, though I adore it now!
($46 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2013 Weingut Pfeffingen, Scheurebe, Trocken, Pfalz, Germany.
The chalky sandstone and loamy soils are perfect and along with the Pfalz climate for beautiful and vibrant dry Scheurebe, a grape that, like Riesling can offer many different style choices from dry and tangy to rich, sweet and honeyed. This vivid and bright Pfeffengen has loads of acidity and mineral notes along with brisk citrus along with aromatic quality, this is one of the specialties of the estate, the Fuhrmann-Eymael family has been making wine for over 250 years and their winery in the Plalz is one of the top estates along with Muller-Catoir, von Winning and others. Pfeffengen and winemaker Rainer Gabel makes a great array of wines from dry table wines to powerful Grosses Gewachs along with some red wines as well, plus a top selection of sweet styles, but this dynamic and fresh Scheurebe is a great place to start and it is a wonderful Summer wine. The 2013 vintage in Germany is turning out in the bottle to be much better than anybody had hoped after two exceptional years and I think are real sleeper wines, and this wine is drinking great with pure flavors and nice extract, there is lots of energy and focus here and it is almost as exciting and intense as Riesling. The Weingut Pfeffengen Dry Scheurebe starts with a super pale hue with just a faint glint of gold/green in the glass and white flowers, herbs, verbena and tropical essences float up leading to a zesty palate of lime, grapefruit, unripe pear/apple, kiwi and peach pit with crystal clear mineral, sea salt and lemon grass. Even with air the Scheurebe maintains it’s impressive form and rush of acidity and vigor, this is a light bodied white that doesn’t disappoint and delivers on every promise, it is crisp and easy to enjoy, great with white fish, light picnic fare and wonderful on a hot day or evening just sipping by it’s self. There might be some more to come with age, but I would imagine it will be a better idea just to enjoy it young, over the next year or so. This is a winery to check out and explore, these are intriguing wines, especially this Scheurebe, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine Clusel-Roch, Côte-Rôtie, Rhone Red, France.
Clusel-Roch is a traditional Domaine producing a fine and beautiful example of Côte-Rôtie, they employ certified organic farming with biodynamic style, or holistic principals to ensure life, vigor and health of the vines, they use only native/natural yeast and for the Côte-Rôtie long fermentations with a two year elevage in mostly used Burgundy barrels. The domaine vinifies the Syrah (only about 4% inter planted Viognier goes in) with some whole cluster, but de-stemming is done when necessary to give more elegance and grace, and the 2011 has it all, one of the best I’ve had from the vintage with clear Syrah energy, depth and length, this is a wonderful Côte-Rôtie (Roasted Slope) expression from their tiny parcels in the Côte Brun. The soil is Schist with faded black mica, hence the name, as it now looks brown and the vines are laid out on steep terraces facing mostly south looking down on the Rhône River, this is one of the world’s great terroirs. The 2011 Côte-Rôtie from Clusel-Roch starts with violets, earth, graphite, dark berry and peppercorns leading to a supple palate of creme de cassis, a mix of green and black olives, white pepper, flinty mineral, boysenberry, cherry and damson plum as well as hints of lavender, licorice, cedar and saline. There is great harmony in the layers of flavors, a solid core structure with refined tannin, a lift of acidity and wonderful sense of texture, focus and a gorgeous long finish, in other words there is impeccable balance and detail, and while not a a flamboyant or lavish offering, it is the better for it and it should deliver sensual pleasure for years to come, there is a real charm and radiant beauty here in this stylish Rhône from Clusel-Roch, I highly recommend searching it out, imported by Charles Neal on the west coast, this is old school and natural Côte-Rôtie at it’s best, drink from 2016 to 2026.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2014 Grosset, Riesling, Polish Hill, Clare Valley, Australia.
It is great to see Grosset back in the US and while not cheap, it is a stunning wine, and is a bucket list Riesling no question, thanks to Hudson Wine Brokers for bringing this winery back to our market after a few years away. With the world re-discovering Riesling and especially the drier styles, Grosset is a standard barer for the Aussie style, along with Pewsey Vale, Rolf Binder and Henschke, these are top class exceptionally dry wines that rival Grosses Gewachs from Germany, Austria’s dry versions, in fact Grosset reminds me most of Knoll from the Wachau, and the best from Alsace. The Grosset from Clare, really stands above, even if I adore the Eden Valley wines mentioned, and the 2014 version of Polish Hill is truly spectacular with intense lime, minty herb, grapefruit, mineral, peach and mango with great crisp extract, vibrant and juicy acidity it just explodes from the glass and is a vigorous young Riesling, hyper dry and mouth watering with nice salty notes and chalky stoniness. The Polish Hill is not your grandma’s Riesling, it is austere, vivid and light and searing on the palate, though you can sense the inner density and power, this is a special wine. Riesling goes through many stages and while it is now bright and tangy, giving lots of it’s charm, they really need years and even decades to really be mind-blowing and I think this will be one of those greats that we wish we had more of in the cellar. It is a big seductive tease right now with hints of grand moments ahead, though there is nothing wrong with drinking it now or soon. I see much more complexity and pleasure happening here in this fine Grosset, the finish is cool, steely with a whisper of verbena, apricot and some savory elements along with a whiff of mineral/shale, there is no pronounced diesel or petrol notes at this point, though I imagine in a bit of time that and waxy qualities will emerge as so often does. Drink now and often, but be sure to hide a few away too, drink from 2015 to 2029, this is a beauty!
($52 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Storm Wines, Grande Marque Rouge, Santa Ynez Valley.
The Storm brother’s are really making a splash these days, one in South Africa making awesome Pinot Noir in the Western Cape and the other Ernst now emerging as a new star on the central coast with his Storm Wines and especially this Chateauneuf-du-Pape inspired blend Grande Marque Rouge. Ernst, being from South Africa goes for cooler sites, like the Cape, that express deep ripe flavors, but at lower alcohol levels, so unlike Chateauneuf or Paso there is not 15-16% in his wines, they show a bit more delicacy coming in at closer to 13.5%, but with big mouth feel, texture and lush layers, I hope to review his highly acclaimed Pinot Noir offering too, particularly after this gorgeous Rhone blend. The 2012 Storm Wines Grande Marque Rouge, a blend of 43% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 14% Cinsault and 14% Syrah, starts with violets and fig paste and blackberry, hints of smoke, mineral and exotic spices along with a deep garnet/purple hue before a rich palate of black raspberry, plum, sweet red currant, candied cherry and boysenberry fruits, plus cedar, camphor, pepper, lavender oil, minty herb and fennel. There is a blueberry essence that lingers on the finish and a mid palate burst of cassis/huckleberry on the second sip, this wine gathers density and character with every taste, it has vitality, charm and is loaded with pleasure, I highly recommend checking these wines out, they are already in their 6th vintage, I can’t believe I’ve not had them before, this is really tasty and impressive stuff, and I love his brother’s, Hannes’ Storm Vrede Pinot, my favorite southern Hemisphere Pinot Noir to date. The Grande Marque Rouge is drinking wonderfully now, I can see no good reason to wait, though it can last another 5 to 7 years easy, drink from 2015 to 2021.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Ampeleia, Kepos di Ampeleia, IGT Rosso, Coata Toscana, Italy.
The new and exciting Maremma project by Elisabetta Foradori, Ampeleia Estate on the Tuscan Coast made in her all natural, biodymanic way using mostly Rhone varietals comes into life as this beautiful and seductive Kepos di Ampeleia 2012 made from a mix of Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan(o) plus small amounts of Alicante Bouschet and Marsellan a grape that has found a great home to this region that was a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The Ampeleia was been around since the 2010, but not seriously imported until recently, the main wine is the Ampeleia that focuses on Cabernet Franc, similar to Duemani and Le Macchiole, but this Kepos is a gorgeous wine and looks set to be a star in it’s own right. The 2012 Kepos di Ampeleia is ruby/garnet hued with a heady perfume of dried and fresh flowers, Asian spice market and pomegranate lifts from the glass and leads to a palate of red raspberry, tangy currants, wild plum, strawberry and fleshy stone fruit along with pepper, tobacco leaf, mint and warm terra-cotta tiles. There is a light dream quality and charm to this medium weight wine, it certainly whispers I’m Italian, but exotic too, a lovely mysterious stranger, and there’s a hint of savory black licorice, cedar, earth and cinnamon stick that lingers with cherry and blueberry on the finish. Foradori, from the high regions of Alto Adige and near Trentino, and her team have made an easy adjustment to the warm Mediterranean Tuscan region, terroir which features clay, volcanic and schist soils and climate, and her wines are highly desirable and compelling, this Kepos especially and at 13% it is lively, complex and balanced, even in a warm vintage which highlights the care in the vineyards and in the cellar, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($26 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2006 Viuva Jose Gomes da Silva & Filhos, Ramisco Collares, Ribeira de Collares, Portugal.
The Ramisco grape is only found here, and it is getting more rare with each passing year, it comes from the sea side plantings at Collares, near Sintra, northwest of Lisbon, it is a varietal that looks set for extinction with housing developments pushing it’s acreage to an ever shrinking area, this is very sad, as the Ramisco is like the Barolo or Barbaresco of Portugal. The size of the vineyards is getting tiny, I hope they find some other terroir where it can be at home, in fact the bottle size has shrunk too, the winery now sells it in a 500ml bottle, so it can make more single bottles of this wine. The 2006 Viuva Gomes da Silva Ramisco is a lovely red, showing detailed layers of flavor with good acidity, vibrancy and tannins lifting the medium weight red fruits, the color is a light ruby hue, like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo and the character and charm does remind you of Piedmonte and Barolo, though with a bit of the exotic and a touch of sea side influences, as the grape is grown in pure sand in the dunes near the Atlantic coast. There is a tangy dried currant, strawberry, plum and poached cherry core with hints of anise, tar, peach, citrus rind, herbs, saline, guava flesh, cedar and sticky flower petals with mineral, flinty spices and fine chalk dust notes. Everything comes together nicely and elegant with the age, the grip has turned smooth along this beautiful wine to meld together with style and controlled vigor, it should age gorgeously for another 10 years, this is an amazing and unique wine, best from 2015 to 2026.
($38 Est. 500ml) 94 Points, grapelive