2012 Lagier Meredith, Syrah, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley.
The husband and wife team of Dr. Carole Meredith, the renown grape varietal researcher, and Steve Lagier are making some of the most impressive wines ever to come from Mount Veeder, high above the Napa Valley in the Mayacamas range. Every vintage seems to get better and better here at Lagier Meredith, and Steve Lagier did a fantastic job crafting the latest 2012 vintage wines from this estate, especially his Syrah, which is one of the best in the state. Along with this fantastic Syrah they also do Tribidrag, the grape as known as Zinfandel, of which Carole was instrumental in discovering it’s origins in Croatia, as well as Mondeuse, a rare Savoie grape that has found a nice home up on Mount Veeder, both are well worth checking out. This 2012 Lagier Meredith Syrah starts with a heady mix of perfume and spice with crushed violets, red pepper flakes, espresso and cassis leading to a gripping palate of medium to full weight that reminds you of Guigal’s Cote-Rotie in many ways with lush texture and deep character, showing racy plum, blueberry, fig paste, boysenberry and kirsch along with camphor, bacon, graphite/mineral, cedar, peppercorns, flinty stone and a touch of vanilla stick. I’m a huge fan of this wine that is most certainly a California wine, but one that shows it’s Northern Rhone heritage in gorgeous fashion with a hint of black olive and stems in the background. Alban, Stolpman, Samsara, Pax, Bedrock, Pisoni, Sandlands and Arnot-Roberts lead the way for top Syrah in California in recent years, and this Lagier Meredith joins these elites as well as the likes of Cayuse and Sine Qua Non with this effort. If you like Syrah at all you’ll love this one, and this vintage should develop further in the next 3 to 5 years, be sure not to miss it, best from 2016 to 2022, though it will be damn hard to resist it’s charms as is! This is awesome Syrah!
($50 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Dugat-Py, Gevrey-Chambertin “Cuvee Coeur de Roy” Tres Vieilles Vignes, Red Burgundy, France.
Bernard Dugat-Py’s stunningly gorgeous Gevrey Coeur de Roy 2013 is one of the most moving and captivating Pinots I’ve tried all year, but it comes at a hefty cost, in fact it comes in at a Grand Cru price, and that is tough to shallow, even though I absolutely admire and adore the quality and depth here, it is truly a great wine. The 2013 Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvee Coeur de Roy old vines is a pure and unfiltered Burgundy with silken layers and deep fruit complexity, it is nobility and elegance in the glass with an enticing and subtle perfume, a fairly dark hue of ruby and bright garnet and medium bodied palate as well as a spectacularly lingering and haunting finish. The Domaine is run by Bernard, Loic and Jocelyne Dugat-Py, the thirteenth generation of family winemakers here at Dugat-Py, they family only their own vines, never buying grapes or wine, they farm organic and have mostly vines older than 65 years old, they believe in traditional and artisan winemaking with an amazing attention to detail from the vineyard to the glass. The Cuvee Coeur de Roy comes from vines 50 to 100 years old, one plot was planted in 1910, they are set on clay and limestone soils and have been biodynamic since 1999, these old vines give such intensity the wine sees 100% new French oak and was aged in barrel for about 18 months, this seems hard to believe when tasting as there is very little trace of oak present, such is the quality and power of the fruit. The nose starts with soft floral tones of wilted roses, hints of violets and moves to spices, earth and black fruit before guiding to the mouth where the remarkable play of texture, energy and fruit is mind blowing, this is the real deal with glorious feel and poise showing black cherry, plum, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry fruits with subtle pepper, cedar, anise and clove along with cinnamon, wild mushroom, dusty tannins and a beam of acidity lifting the pleasure factor higher. Sweet and savory caresses continue on and on here, with rose oil, dried currants, pipe tobacco and a delicate trace of smoky toast, and I couldn’t help fall in love with this Dugat-Py, and I do hope to re-visit this beauty again, it is opulent, decedent and hedonistic Pinot Noir at it’s finest, very impressive, drink from 2018 to 2024.
($240 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Le P’tit Paysan, Le P’tit Pape, San Benito County.
Ian Brand’s Le P’tit Paysan based in Salinas is a wonderful winery focusing on Central Coast grapes, mostly in Monterey and just north in San Benito County, where they have some great old vine vineyards that are starting to get some real attention, and that love is showing in Brand’s well crafted Le P”tit Pape, a tasty treat Chateauneuf du Pape style Rhone blend. The 2012 Le P’tit Paysan Le P’tit Pape is 53% Grenache, 28% Syrah and 19% Mourvedre and it is rich, delightfully fresh and spicy with a cascade of flavors, nice grip and lovely finish with a nose of red fruit, wild herbs, chalky stones, light floral notes and a hint of framboise. The palate lined with fine grained tannins shows raspberry, boysenberry, red cherry and pomegranate fruits along with lavender, anise, peppercorns, a touch of leather, dusty gravel and light cedar, finishing with a play of savory elements and pleasing cassis. This nicely balanced red blend is showing well right now and is a superb value in it’s price class, Brand is really making some good wines, as well as this one, he is doing a Viognier and Chardonnay, both exciting wines with loads of character and interest, and under the La Marea label a single varietal Mourvedre, Albarino and Grenache, also worth searching out. The Le P’tit Pape 2012 is a stylish effort that is a wine to drink in the next 2 to 3 years, it is really hitting it’s stride right now, though I might put a couple of bottles away, it might be very rewarding to re-visit in 5 to 10 years time, this is fun stuff, best from 2015 to 2018.
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2011 Giovanni Rosso, Barolo DOCG, Del Comune di Serralunga D’ Alba, Piedmonte, Italy.
The new Giovanni Rosso Barolo Serralunga by Davide Rosso is absolutely outstanding, and it seriously seduces from the first sip, this is wonderfully textured Nebbiolo of richness and purity with firm, but velvet gloved tannins and stunning length. Even young and robust in the glass the Rosso Barolo delivers glorious detail and depth with a beautiful perfume of violets, herbs and rose petals along with subtle meatiness, earth and mineral leading to a mouth filling palate that highlights the warm vintage with full bodied fruit. Still this is an old school wine with deft winemaking and refined class, it is totally transparent and it’s opulence is a reflection of nature and a show of it’s place, the layers are seamless and flowing and there is no overt wood or embellishment, just a gorgeous mix of fruit, savory elements and structural pillars, this is a balanced Barolo that drinks superb now and will age gracefully for many years to come. The main thrust is a core of black cherry, damson plum, fig paste, blueberry and a touch of strawberry fruits with wild mushroom, beef stock, minty herbs, black licorice, gravel stones and cedar spice, and finishes with dried currants and candied citrus rind. The lift from acidity and slight bite of dusty tannins really are well integrated, though certainly you’ll want cuisine to match this Barolo, drink this beauty over the next decade, best from 2016 to 2026. This is another stunning wine from Davide Rosso, I highly recommend getting his Giovanni Rosso offerings from this Barolo Serralunga to his basic Barbera, Langhe Nebbiolo and his Grand Cru class “Serra” Barolo, which is not cheap, but oh so good, Davide Rosso and Giuseppe Vajra are my top picks for the winemaker of the year in Piedmonte!
($54 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2014 Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Villages, White Burgundy, France.
The latest from Dominique Lafon’s Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon is a quite extraordinary Macon-Villages, an entry level offering that will certainly please almost any white Burgundy lover, it is precise, vibrant and surprisingly deep and complex. I tasted it over two days and found the immediate pleasure and youth charming with upfront acidity, mineral and subtlety, while over the next hours and day it grew in dimension and developed a rich leesy mouthfeel, gained texture and showed a polish and poise you’d expect from a much grander appellation, in fact it will be a real sleeper in a blind tasting, as long as it gets a bit of decanting. The nose is shy still with hints of white flowers, hay, wet stones, mixed citrus and clove leading the way to a vibrant and racy palate of lime, lemon, green apple and tart pear fruit along with light hazelnut, brioche, saline, chalk rock, chilled melon and lemongrass. fresh from the bottle everything is vigorous, bright and zesty, with air everything opens up and crunchy mineral, hints of smoke and fine lees add to the complexity as well as peach flesh and faint tropical notes. This wine really over achieves and is a Chardonnay of life and class, and for the price, a must have bargain in quality Burgundy, very impressive again from Lafon, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
n.v. Andre et Mireille Tissot, Cremant de Jura Rose Extra Brut, Sparkling wine, France.
The Benedicte & Stephane Tissot Rose Extra Brut Rose is a thing of beauty, this sublime example of Crement de Jura really delivers and stuns for the price, this wonderful dry bubbly certainly stacks up against top Champagnes and is at a price where you can just enjoy it now, no special occasions needed to pop this almost quilt free sparkler. The Tissot Rose is crafted from Pinot Noir, Poulsard and a touch of Trousseau and it tastes and feels like a grower producer, it has depth, character and charm with luxurious layers and a fine mousse. The Andre et Mireille Tissot Crement de Jura Rose Extra Brut starts with a heady yeasty note with subtle rose water, hazelnut and mineral elements along with a touch of citrus, tart cherry and brioche, plus wet stones, strawberry and white plum. This is super tasty stuff with a gorgeous salmon/pink hue, creamy beading bubbles and vivid transparency along with serious mouth feel and lavish style. It is hard not to gush over this method traditional sparkling wine from the wilds of the Cotes du Jura, but let’s just say I highly recommend getting some, or a lot of this, I know I’ll be drinking more than a few bottles in the near future! The compelling bouquet, vibrant dry nature, a subtle complex mix of floral, fruit and savory/stony, along with class, elegance and verve make this a glorious offering from Tissot, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2013 Chateau Pech-Latt, Corbieres, Selection Vieilles Vignes, France.
This is a terrific Syrah based old vine Corbieres that is all organic and made with natural winemaking techniques, it is full of flavor and has a true terroir character. Mosty Syrah with small amounts of Grenache and Carignan this Chateau Pech-Latt is a super example of luxurious and vigorous Corbieres with dark fruit charm, spicy pop and earthy soul, I was very impressed, it might be my favorite ever Corbieres! The nose starts with dried violets, warm clay tiles, blackberry and a hints of sticky lavender leading to a palate of blueberry, boysenberry and tart plum fruit with touches of wild mushroom, bacon, red and black pepper, gravel and salted licorice. This wine pleases from start to finish with a nice streak of zesty acidity and fine grain tannin holding it together, at 14% this is not a lightweight, but still feels vibrant and fresh, though it does fill the mouth and has length and legs, it will give a few Crozes and Cornas a run for the money. This was my first time tasting the Chateau Pech-Latt and it was a great first impression and experience, I highly recommend looking for this lovely Corbieres, it has all the right stuff with focused fruit and nice savory elements, this is very savvy, jazzy and entertaining wine, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($20 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 J.K. Carriere, Pinot Noir, Antionette, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Jim Prosser’s latest set of Pinots are majestic and especially gorgeous and outstanding the 2012 Antionette is one of the stars of the vintage. The Antionette is a barrel selection, but it comes mostly from old vine plots at Temperance Hill from what I gather and it shows amazing focus and is wonderfully layered, it was fermented with wild yeast with the wine aged in French oak of which one barrel was new out of the seven made of the 2012 Antionette, a wine named for Jim’s grandmother. The vintage shines through here, this is a lavish and beautifully detailed Pinot Noir with vivid and lush flavors, a deep color and polished silky tannins, but because of the elevation, cool site and vigorous acidity everything is balanced, refined and almost perfect with about 13.5% alcohol, making for a Grand Cru class effort that should age well and drink fantastic for years to come, as well as now. The 2012 Antionette starts with rose petals, violets and currant notes on the nose with subtle cinnamon, briar and flinty spices leading to a densely filled palate of graceful fruits including black cherry, plum and blackberry along with tea spice, clove, anise and mineral tones, light toast and cedar. The finish in this elegant Willamette is lingering with deep fruit that has lengthy staying power with wild strawberry, racy candied citrus and framboise floating in the background, look for savory and natural earthy elements to develop over time and add to the complexity and charm, drink from 2016 to 2024. Wow, what a wine, what a vintage and what a winemaker, this is stunning stuff, I highly recommend grabbing this awesome wine, and checking out all the J.K. Carriere offerings, I was very impressed with everything I tasted from Jim Prosser, in particular this Antionette, but also the Vespidae, Gemini and his 2013 Provocateur were exceptional!
($65 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2014 G.D. Vajra, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
The new Vajra Dolcetto is bright, tangy and full of personality, even in what was a fairly trying vintage, and it delivers it’s usual excellence with charm, poise and style, this is another beauty from Giuseppe Vajra. Coming from vines in the heart of the Barolo zone the 2014 G.D. Vajra Dolcetto starts with a deep ruby red color and a nose that has dark berry, herbs, spice and light floral tones leading to a zesty youthful palate of black cherry, tart cranberry, a peachy/citrusy juicy note and a plum fruit core along with wild fennel, dried currant, a hint of wet earth, grey salt, oyster shell and a touch of vine picked wild berry. There is vivid acidity and feather light tannins in this lighter style Dolcetto, there is a sense of vintage and terroir marking this wine and while not as gorgeous and expressive as 2010 or 2011, this lovely Dolcetto is worth searching out, as are all of Vajra’s offerings. As well as this little gem, you should really keep an eye out for the Vajra Riesling, easily the best Italian dry example of this grape, their Barolo bottlings of course, and the Freisa Kye, an exotic and stunning impression. No question, if you love Barbera, Nebbiolo or Dolcetto you should be already a Vajra fan, and this 2014 Dolcetto d’Alba is a really fine place to start if you’ve not had a chance to try these wines, it really is a nice red that is pure joy in the glass, drink from 2015 to 2019.
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
nv Domaine Rimbert, Cousin Oscar, on se l’ arrache, Vin de France Rouge, Languedoc, France.
The fresh young vine Cinsault from Domaine Rimbert’s Saint-Chinian estate Cousin Oscar is a charming, playful and easy drinking Vin de France red that comes in at only 11.5% and tastes bright, fresh and spicy. Jean-Marie Rimbert has some fun with this one and we all benefit, this is all 2014 vintage 100% Cinsault, it shows classic Roussillon character and should be enjoyed over the next year or so. The latest Cousin Oscar “On se l’ arrache” named after a family member with a fancy reputation for enjoying many a women’s company, wink, wink, starts with a mix of raspberry, blueberry, cherry and dried currant fruits along with cracked peppercorns, chalk dust, flinty/mineral notes, roasted herbs, lavender, warm stones and red spices. Light to medium bodied and with a balanced mix of savory and fruit flavors this Cinsault impresses for interesting and pleasing drinking and the finish is crispy tart with some strawberry and anise lingering, this stuff is nice summer and BBQ vino!
($15 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive