Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 21, 2015

2014SelbachUrAlteReben2014 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling “Ur” alte Reben Feinherb, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Mosel Germany.
The “uratle” or extremely old vine cuvee from Selbach-Oster is crafted traditionally from 80 to 100 year old vines with natural fermentation and cask maturing, it is a throw-back wine, a mostly dry Riesling with old school character and style and this 2014 is astonishingly pure and full of delicacy, complexity and grace. This was a magicians vintage, it was unbelievably difficult and ever changing, but somehow the Mosel ended up with glorious wines, though it tiny amounts, between hail, rot, heat, rain and Asian fruit flies something really special happened and Johannes Selbach’s Ur Alte Reben Feinherb is an exotic beauty of a Riesling. Miracles do happen, and this wine is proof, a gorgeous example of nature and humble craftsmanship in the cellar, this 2014 Ur Alte Reben shows a light color, a slight green/gold tint really in the glass, a perfume of fallen yellow rose petals, Turkish candied gels and flinty mineral and pepper spice and sea shore notes lead to a clear and dryish palate of green apple, lime, kiwi, cool summer melon, peach and honeyed grapefruit along with hints of brine, white tea, dried mango, apricot stone, steely elements, river stones and a mix of forest and tropical notes. There is divine balance and plenty of tangy acidity, salty slate and vigor to make up for the sugar level and only a slight creamy sensation and a pleasure center light up in the mouth makes the RS presence known, this is stunning Riesling for now with lightly spicy cuisine or for the cellar, great stuff from Selbach as per normal, drink from 2016 to 2026.
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 20, 2015

2012AlfaroPN2012 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The other day I read a blog piece about how hard it was to find a great or good California Pinot Noir under $40, I was very unconvinced and thought it was sloppy reporting, especially as it seemed they tried about the worst selection of wine possible, that seemed to be on purpose for a bashing of the states’ Pinot, my response was to highlight at least 10 absolutely top wines that can easily be had for under $40, though I didn’t get a reply as of yet. (Still waiting Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, and to be fair she did mention that the high priced wines from California and Oregon were world class…) The wines I certainly believe are deservingly need mentioning were Samsara, Brewer-Clifton, Melville, Peay, Fort Ross, Lucia, Windy Oaks, Failla, Mansfield-Dunn, Copain, Knez and this superb wine from Richard Alfaro’s Alfaro Family Vineyards in Santa Cruz. (That was just off the top of my head, there are loads of other wonderful under $40 Pinots!) I had put this 2012 away for personal consumption, but pulled it out just to refresh my memory and it is showing fantastic, and while the 2012 might be hard to find on the shelves, don’t worry the 2013 is even better, that said the 2012 continues to impress, it has gained complexity and class in bottle with a year of short term cellaring. Alfaro’s Santa Cruz Mountains estate near Corralitos is a must visit winery close to Aptos only a few miles from Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean, the Pinot and Chardonnay offerings are some of the best values in California and his Albarino and Gruner Veltliner are must have summer whites. The very appealing estate Pinot Noir 2012 saw about 30% new French oak and comes in at a very balanced 13.8% alcohol, making for a rich and lush wine that has vitality and depth, it starts with crushed berries, cola, floral tones and toasty oak leading to a silken palate of raspberry, plum and red cherry fruits along with a touch of earth, tea, anise, saline and vanillin. This is still a young vibrant wine, lifted by underlying acidity and it should get even better with another few years in bottle, there is a fair amount of tannin, but it plays well with the robust fruit and is overall very well focused, this wine would be fantastic with duck breast and it is quite hedonistic with a nice long finish. California is full of values and excellent wines in all levels, to say otherwise is nonsense, in particular I highly recommend checking out Alfaro Family Vineyards, these are real serious wine that are also crowd pleasing,  with many outstanding wines priced between $20 and $40, like this one, which are savvy and stylish.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 19, 2015

2012FaurieGoldCapsuleHerm2012 Bernard Faurie, Hermitage Rouge, Gold Capsule, Northern Rhone, France.
The 2012 Bernard Faurie Hemitage is one of the most beautiful Syrah wines I’m had in years, this gorgeous wine comes from two historic plots, Le Meal and Les Bessards on the famed Hermitage hill, and these blocks are over a 100 years old, making it a truly noble effort. The Gold Capsule is always Meal/Bessards, so be sure to look close, as there no markings on the label indicating which Crus it comes from, though all the Faurie Hermitage bottling will be well worth investing in, no question these are prized wines from a tiny artisan producer, imported by Kermit Lynch, and are extremely rare. I was lucky enough to enjoy the Bernard Faurie Saint-Joseph earlier this year, it was sublime, but this Hermitage is clearly on another plane and is heavenly, it is not a big and a blockbuster, it is more like a Grand Cru Burgundy, it has pedigree and delicacy with glorious layers and harmony, it seduces and it is hauntingly addictive with sensual and textural pleasure. Bernard Faurie uses ultra traditional methods, it is a simple formula of handcrafted wine, he carefully hand picks and ferments the grapes from Hermitage’s granite, limestone and quartz hillside soils, foot stomps the grapes whole cluster with stems and puts the unfiltered juice in big neutral casks for 2 or 3 years depending on vintage and bottles unfined, and the results are surprisingly poised and graceful, there is no doubt these wines are pure expressions of class, terroir and are masterpieces of this special place. It is hard to compare Bernard Faurie’s version of Hermitage, but to try and give you an example, it has the purity and regal essence of Chapoutier’s great singe Crus, though with a more raw feel, and it is nowhere near as powerful or as imposing as Chave’s L’Hermitage, and there’s a hidden depth in the Faurie and almost feminine sexiness, in the 2012 especially, it is utterly spellbinding. There 2012 Gold Capsule, Meal/Bessards starts with earthy spice, mint, leather and violets leading to an elegant and restrained palate in this deeply hued, purple and garnet Syrah with blackberry, boysenberry, damson plum, currant and cherry fruits subtly cascading in the mouth along with red and black pepper, black olives, cassis, wild mushroom, bacon fat and light salted black licorice. This is absolutely drop dead stunning Hermitage, it should fill out in bottle over the next 3 to 5 years and drink wonderfully over the next decade and a half, though ridiculously thrilling already, best from 2018 to 2025.
($130 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 18, 2015

2013BrunoColinChassEnRemilly2013 Domaine Bruno Colin, Chassagne-Montrachet, En Remilly, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
Bruno & Stephanie Colin’s latest set of Chassagne’s are wonderfully intriguing wines and are some of the best and most exciting from this domaine to date, they are right up there with the Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, cementing the Colin heritage of great white Burgundy! These serious Chassagne expressions all are worthy of your attention and merit their own note, but for me the En Remilly was the most dynamic and expressive with electric like energy, poise and length, maybe not as elegant as the Morgeot or as old school as Les Chaumes, it delivers stunning vibrancy and mineral intensity, really standing out. Bruno’s latest offering move him closer in style to Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey which makes perfect sense and highlight the great strides these wines have taken, all of them come from small family lots in top sites, with 12 Premier Crus and a bit of Bourgogne and village wine as well making up his 19 bottlings or so from his old cellar in Chassagne, and on a side note, I noticed and admired his use of classy wax capsules on the Premier Crus this vintage, which also add some jazz to his highly impressive efforts. Bruno Colin, imported by Kermit Lynch, deserves acclaim for his lovely wines without family comparison, but that is hard to do, though in this case it highlights the quality on display. The 2013 Chassagne En Remilly bursts from the glass with vivid intensity and seductive charm, it is light greenish gold in hue, and starts with steely mineral, white flowers, saline, crisp citrus and river stones that lead to a gorgeous palate array of flavors including lemon curds, lime, apple and cool pear fruits along with brisk acidity, subtle, but sexy wood notes and great expansion in texture and mouth feel. A tropical essence, a hint of rose, melon and stone fruit come through along with light cedar, spice and hazelnut adding complexity, plus a faint glow of matchstick and honey. This wine lives off vital acidity, but it is refined and thoroughly compelling in every way, this is fantastic stuff that should drink gloriously for a decade or so, the En Remilly from over 50 year old vines is a sexy beast with a sublime balance of all it’s elements, it is pure joy in the glass with vigor and class, drink from 2015 to 2024.
($104 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 17, 2015

2013MontesecondoRosso2013 Montesecondo, Sangiovese IGT Rosso, Toscana, Italy.
Montesecondo is a tiny biodynamic farm in the northern part of Chianti Classico not far from Florence and in the Val di Pesa area of Tuscany owned by Silvio and Catalina Messana. Making organic, lighter and earthy style Sangiovese doesn’t always sit well with the Chianti Classico consortium (Consorzio) which is trying to develop a more international style for Chianti, so sometimes the Montesecondo, which is more like Burgundy than Bordeaux doesn’t qualify to be called Chianti Classico with certain cuvees, like this IGT Rosso, a 100% Sangiovese that delivers an elegant version of the varietal with bight flavors, subtle earthiness and medium weight. The 2013 vintage is ruby in color with a lifting palate of cherry, raspberry, tangy currant and strawberry fruits leading the way along with hints of sweet herbs, tobacco leaf, cedar, pepper and anise. This easy and pure Sangiovese is not a serious cellar offering, but it is really pretty and a wonderful drinking wine, best to enjoy this over the next 2 or so years, great with food and a great value. Montesecondo is a wine to be admired and cherished for it’s delicacy and transparency, it’s pure and lighter style doesn’t hide it’s flavorful and charming character, these are lovely wines, drink this one between 2015 and 2018.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 16, 2015

2014Coulbois2014 Domaine Patrick Coulbois, Pouilly Fume, Les Cocques, Loire Valley White, France.
Fast becoming one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs, the Coulbois Pouilly Fume “Les Cocques” really over delivers in it’s price class, at around twenty bucks I certainly could almost forget most New Zealand and California offerings! Not too far from Dagueneau, Coulbois, imported by Charles Neal, has an interesting mix of soils including some silex and while not as rock star as the 2013 was, the 2014 is still a superb wine that delivers pure flavors and terroir. Lime flower, lemon/lime and tangerine with a hint of peach fruit, slight weedy note, stones and mineral along with mouth watering acids all play well in this serious Sauvignon Blanc that leans toward vivid intensity on the palate. The latest from Patrick Coulbois is a stylish Pouilly Fume, it is light and dancing in the mouth, the 2014 can’t compare to 2013 for extract or flamboyance, but it pleases just the same and this is classy stuff to enjoy over the next 2 or 3 years.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 15, 2015

2014RochioliRose2014 Rochioli, Rose of Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Russian River Valley.
The latest tasting room only wine is the rare Rochioli Rose of Pinot Noir, and it makes an emergency visit to Westside Road west of Healdsburg a must do, and now, as this beauty sells out fast, though members of their mailing list can order online, those lucky few. The 2014 Rose of Pinot Noir was handcrafted in small lots, it starts life as just the white free run juice, fermented and gets it’s vivid hue from the addition of still finished Pinot Noir, I’m not sure they always made this Pink treasure this way, but in this vintage the results are merited and admired, this is a really lovely example with a bit more subtlety and charm, even though I always love this offering at Rochioli. The is somewhat muted at first with soft rose water and peach notes along with mineral and saline leading to a bright and vibrant palate showing sour cherry, cranberry, strawberry, watermelon and fresh citrus notes with wet stones and a very long finish. Light herb, spice, a touch of steeliness and tangy acidity lift the wine, but the Pinot fruit certainly comes through, this is well balanced and seductive Rose and white brisk and tangy at first, it opens and rounds out with lingering effect, best to enjoy now and often, drink over the next 6 months to a year. Rochioli’s pink is a a rare and tasty treat, one of the joys of summer in the Russian River Valley!
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 14, 2015-Happy Bastille Day

2014FCrochet2014 Domaine Francois Crochet, Sancerre, Loire Valley White, France.
The latest Francois Crochet Sancerre is a vibrant and brightly flavored Sauvignon Blanc with austere classic varietal markers and tangy citrus fruits and nice mineral tones. The 2014 is not as expressive as 2013 and it has a slight green note, but it certainly is a very good example of place and year, plus it should excite those that like subtle traditional offerings. That said, there’s plenty to like here with zesty lemon/lime, grapefruit, sourgrass/herbs, steely elements, a touch of cat pee and wet river stones. The brisk, vibrant and mineral focused Francois Crochet 2014 is particularly good as a companion to fish and goat cheeses, it picks up added charm with cuisine much more than if you were just sipping it on it’s own, it is an old school terroir wine that deserves studied attention, it without question grew on me and I quite like it, drink over the next 2 or 3 years.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 13, 2015

2013RidgeLyttonEstate2013 Ridge Vineyards, Lytton Estate, Proprietary Red, Dry Creek Valley.
The 2013 Lytton Estate 40% Grenache, 40% Mataro, 15% Zinfandel and 5% Carignane from Lytton in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County is a hybrid California-Chateauneuf style blend with seriously delicious style, and is available at their tasting rooms and through their wine clubs. A wonderful Sunday afternoon tasting at Lytton Springs brought many new experiences and some familiar classics, I always love these warm days at Lytton and the staff and setting are near perfect. Sitting on the lounge deck overlooking the 100 year old Zinfandel vines it is hard not to carried away by the pace and the wines, this is heaven and of the new offerings I was impressed with this new 2013 Lytton Estate Red in particular stood out. This vintage is just fantastic, these are full bodied, lush and vibrant wines, I think 2013 might be a touch better across the board than 2012 even, and this wine especially with a blend heavy in both Grenache and Mataro (Mourvedre) that shows great detail, charm and sexy fruit, spice and complexity in a fun and open wine. I put my money where my pie hole is, and bought a few of these beauties, it starts with array of dark berries, peppery spice, hints of lavender, new saddle leather and kirsch leading to a palate of boysenberry, damson plum, briar notes, cedar, vanilla and iron shavings. With air the wine fills out and expands, but still feels perky and energetic with sweet chewy tannins, bramble and juiciness, the finish is good and lengthy with lingering red currants, dusty stones, a hint of black licorice, dried flowers and minty herbs. This is a highly entertaining red that gives lots of pleasure, it’s ripe, but not overly so with density and structure subtly holding the fruit together, it should age well too, best from 2015 to 2020.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 12, 2015

2012ColletMonte2012 Domaine Romain Collet, Chablis, Monte de Tonnerre, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
I just did a tasting of 2012 Cru Chablis by Romain Collet and I can tell you these are stunning wines, and exceptional values for serious Chardonnay, in particular you should look at the Vaillons, Les Clos, which is amazing and cellar worthy, and this glorious Monte de Tonnerre. Monte de Tonnerre sits right next to the Grand Crus and has mostly the same soils and exposures, so it always makes for a savvy choice in Chablis, and it has proven to be one of my all time favorite vineyards and easily one of the best deals in Burgundy, and this Collet doesn’t disappoint, it is full of energy, extract and full of steely and stony character. The Collet’s are well respected and admired, but somehow they haven’t let it go to their heads and the prices of their wines haven’t gone through the roof in recent years, and I was very happily surprised that the 2012 vintage was as affordable as ever, without the huge bump up in price seen elsewhere in this year that produced such a small intense crop, if you are looking to score some fine, elegant Chardonnay, you should search these wines out. The 2012 Monte de Tonnerre starts with a bouquet of white flowers, chalky stone, subtle sweet wood and flint along with a citrus and liquid mineral leading to an intense palate with heightened flavors and vibrancy with super focused detailing and delicacy showing lemon, green apple, wild pear and light peach fruits with plenty of mouth watering acidity, saline and wet river rocks, plus a nice frame of oak, which never gets overt, and there is hazelnut, melon and a touch of fine lees brioche. This wine comes in at 12.5% and feels youthful, vivid and graceful, but there is real texture, depth and concentration wound up inside, the Collet’s crafted a beauty here and this should drink fantastic over the next 6 to 8 years and maybe longer!
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive