2015 Liquid Farm, Rose, Vogelzang Vineyard, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA.
The Liquid Farm Rose is modeled after the Bandol Rose wines of Provence, mostly Mourvedre in make up and very well structured, this is a serious pink wine, know to it’s fans as “Liquid Crack” or “Pink Crack” for it’s hedonistic addictive qualities! The 2015 is ripe and pure with good framing and brisk acidity showing this wine at it’s best, it is like Bedrock’s Ode to Lulu Rose from the south with great detail and pleasure, and while there are some great Rose choices these days, the Liquid Farm is one of the most sought after and joins California’s elite group of pinks along with the mentioned Bedrock, Arnot-Roberts, and Matthiasson to name just a few. The 2015 Rose by Liquid Farm is bright and vigorous with rosewater, sour cherry, raspberry and nervy citrus along with watermelon, liquid mineral, chalky river stones, anise and spicy pepper and sticky lavender, this tartly fresh pink is very invigorating and length with subtle fruitiness and cool crisp finesse. Drink this Liquid Farm Rose of Mourvedre now through Thanksgiving if you can possibly hold on to any that long, one of the best vintages of this wine to date, it will sell out fast, also be sure to search out the Chardonnay offerings too, especially the Golden Slope.
($26 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2014 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Kabinett, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel Germany.
At 7.5% alcohol and with beautiful mineral spice the latest Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett from Johannes Selbach shines brightly and feels fresh and opulent, almost creamy, in the mouth. This is pretty stuff, it shows fine balance and has a wonderful mix of rose petal perfume, saline/brine, salty/flint stoniness and a contrast of sweet and tangy fruits with loads of terroir character. The 2014 vintage was extremely difficult with lots of stresses on the growers to make healthy grapes, but the hard work paid off in the end with surprising rewards, especially with Kabinett and Spatlese in the Mosel doing amazingly well, these lightly sweet examples show the best at this stage, while the Trockens (dry styles) will certainly have the upper hand in the 2015 vintage. 2014 is a vintage of delicacy and heightened aromatics, with Selbach’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr showing this to perfection, the nose has a mix of pure rose petal and rose water as well as exotic spices, sea breeze, a hint of hemp/tea and dried honey leading to a lime/mango and fleshy stone fruit peachy palate with shale and river stones. While a Kabinett, this Riesling gathers a bit of weight with air and finishes with a succulent decedent sweetness with juicy apricot and white flowers, while juicy/crunchy acidity keeps it vibrant and crisp, very well judged and poised. From mixed slate slopes on the sunny side of the river the Wehlenner is ripe with yellow fruits, elegantly spiced and steely focused. This should age nicely, but can really be enjoyed as is, a very fine Spring and Summer white, lively, classic and refreshing.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2013 Bucklin, Zinfandel, Bambino, Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma Valley.
The latest Bambino Old Hill Ranch field blend Zinfandel shows Bucklin at his best, this vintage had enough warmth to allow early picking, native yeast fermentation and a long time on the skins, this made for more complexity and balanced alcohol, 14.1%, without needing to water down of fix anything. This natural Zin blend from younger vines in what is one of California’s oldest Zinfandel sites pays homage to these classic heritage vineyards with the same mix of black grapes that were originally planted together back in the later 1800’s, this vintage make up is about 80% Zinfandel (or Tribidrag, originally from Croatia) plus a dose of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouchet, Syrah, Granache and Carignane. Will Bucklin certainly has crafted his own style and niche, but compares well with Bedrock and Ridge, especially his Ancient, from 130 year old vines, but for the money this Bambino is one of the best handcrafted Zins around. Aged for about 20 months in used/neutral French barrique the 2013 Bucklin Bambino is bursting with flavor with heady scents of flowers, spice and red berries to start in this deep ruby/garnet hued wine, rich detail and vibrant layers of raspberry, wild plum, pomegranate, cherry and tart currants unfold on the palate with cedar, bramble/briar spice, lavender, minty sage, hint hint of vanilla, as well as pepper, anise, cinnamon and boysenberry that linger on the finish. There is just enough raw tannin and juicy acidity to frame this energy filled Zinfandel to keep it all poised and structured, but still let maximum pleasure ensue, this is fruity and robust wine that impresses for it’s verve and old school styling, drink over the next 3 to 7 years.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2013 Elio Grasso, Gavarini, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte Italy.
The very sexy and satiny Gavarini Langhe Nebbiolo from Elio Grasso is wonderful example of stylish ready to drink young terroir driven baby Barolo! Gavarini is a Cru site in Monforte d’Alba’s Barolo zone and that pedigree shines through here, and this vibrant Nebbiolo has pitch perfect balance and plush mouth feel. The 2013 has surprising ripe tannins and silken layers, it starts with mixed floral tones, a bit of chalk dust, mineral and racy red fruits with rose petals, crushed violets, raspberry, tangy plum, a hint of soy/hosin, truffle, fig paste, minty/tar infused salty black licorice and kirsch. The body is medium/full and the acidity is well integrated, and while it won’t be a long term tannic ager, you’ll want plenty to drink shorter term, this is really pleasing stainless steel fermented and aged pure Nebbiolo, from 20 year old vines on crumbly limestone and loamy soils, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2013 Weingut Rudolf May, Spatburgunder, Langenberg VDP Erste Lage, Franconia Germany.
The Rudi May Pinot Noir, from clone 777 mostly, is from 20 plus year old vines in Franconia, grown on a steep sandstone/marl slope and fermented with natural yeasts and neutral French cask. The results are lovely and the 2013 Langenberg is a stylish medium weight Spatburgunder with wonderful finesse and detail, very different from the Rheingau or Ahr smoky/slate influenced Pinot Noirs, the May gives rich layers with a more elegant profile, this is a great bottle of wine for $25! The nose starts off with a mix of rose petals, tangy red fruits, spice and is lightly earthy, the hue is a deep ruby, true to this darker clone (777) and the palate is full of black cherry, raspberry, plum and strawberry fruits along with mineral notes, saline/oyster shell and cinnamon. The fruit is ripe and sweetly succulent, but it is vibrant and dry with silky sexy texture, again this is joyous stuff and well worth searching out, 2013 was a perfect vintage for Franconia and for Rudi May in particular, especially for his Cru wines like this one and his amazing Silvaner GG, and he told me both 2014 and 2015 were even better, keep an eye out for these impressive wines! Drink this very bright and attractive Pinot Noir over the next 5 to 10 years.
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2013 Foradori, Morei, Teroldego IGT, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Italy.
Fordori’s efforts take Teroldego to another level, especially this beautiful and all natural amphora raised Morei with it’s sublime balance, textural feel and delicate detailing. The 2013 vintage was cooler and a bit lighter/leaner in style than the warmer 2011 and 2012 bottlings, though I think that just makes it that much more elegant and even more compelling, it shows crisp acidity and mineral tones with verve, without weightiness, truly lovely and haunting. The 2013 Morei starts with fresh cherries, minty herbs, saline notes and wild flowers with hints of flint/shale as well as currant leading to a mid palate of dark fruit including plum, blueberry and black raspberry along with truffle, chalky stones, lavender oil and sweet tobacco. The body fills out with air making for some pleasing and stylish experiences in the glass, this is a dark and complex beauty that should develop into a very intriguing Teroldego over the next 3 to 7 years, very impressive again from Foradori, this is without question a must have for her fans!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2013 Athenais, Irancy Cherelle, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France.
The Athenaise label is non domaine wines from Athenaise de Beru of Chateau de Beru, a revolutionary natural winemaker in the very north of Burgundy and Chablis. This was first experience of her wines and I was left spellbound by her 2013 Irancy Cherelle Pinot Noir which reminded me of Jean Foillard’s Fleurie (black label) with pretty whole cluster and Gamay like carbonic/organic nattiness. With air the Pinot fruit takes over and wonderful bright cherry, rose petal and strawberry layers shine through on the palate, it similar though more delicate than the Pacalet Burgundy offerings. The 2013 Athenaise Pinot Noir Irancy Cherelle was fermented with natural yeasts and raised in mostly neutral cask, though there has been experiments with amphora and vats, the wine is very low sulfur and is unfined and unfiltered with a light cloudiness. Lavender, spice and mineral notes come through in the background and it deepens on the finish to reveal plum and tangy currants. This wine has a low alcohol feel and a certain earthy rawness which will appeal to the modernists, though even classicalists will find it hard not to be attracted to it’s charms. I must say, I was more than pleased by it’s performance in the glass and want to explore more of Athenaise de Beru’s wines.
($48 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Scaia Rosato, Veneto IGT, Italy.
One of the best Italian dry Rose wines of the season so far is the Rose of Rondinella from Tenuta Sant’Antonio, this crisp and lively pink is mineral fresh and delicate in detail. I was very impressed with this Scaia Rosato, unlike a lot of Italian Roses that can be weighty and too fruity this light and bright Scaia really feels dusty dry and a perfect sense of lightness, while having a pure range of flavor and distinction that is alluring and seductive. The Sant’Antonio delivers Rondinella’s high acidity perfectly in this vibrant wine with tangy citrus, sour cherry, crisp watermelon and garden picked tart strawberry as well as wet stones, bitter herbs and rosewater. This lip-smacking and puckering Rosato has lots of verve and is treat for the warm days of summer, this is a cool wine from where Valpolicella comes from, and maybe the only wine I’ve sampled made exclusively from this native grape which is usually part of the red blends of Valpolicella, Bardolino and of course Amarone!
($14 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2014 A Coroa, Godello, Valdeorras, Galicia Spain.
The 2014 A Coroa Godello is a brilliant white wine from northwest Spain, it has the saline qualities of a lessy tangy Melon de Bourgogne, as in Muscadet, as well as the depth of a fine white Burgundy, it is dry, but rich in mouth feel and lovely detail. A lot of photos of this wine are popping up on social media, usually placed in front of a try of raw oysters, this has got my mouthwatering for it, and proves it has been well and truly discovered by foodies and wine lovers, but for good reason, it is an example of the varietal and region highlighting it’s character and showing off it’s good graces with cuisine. I adore this A Coroa Godello and have followed it for more than a few vintages, though I must admit this 2014 is maybe the best I’ve tried, it’s a stunner with great balance and pleasure throughout, it starts with sea breezes, chalky (yes dried oyster shell) elements, white flowers and juicy citrus vibrancy. The palate fills out to Chablis like density with hints of creaminess, but still bright acidity and steely mineral driven layers along with cool melon, apple, lemon/lime and light tropical notes. Nice length, zesty crispness and faint herb and brine make for a complete and complex white, drink over the next 3 to 5 years and be sure to stock up for the warm summer evenings ahead.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Domaine Albert Mann, Riesling, Schlossberg Grand Cru, Alsace France.
Showing class and beauty the Albert Mann Schlossberg Grand Cru Riesling is hitting all the right notes with verve and poise, this is very crafted wine from a domaine that is wonderfully re-vitalized and producing some really fantastic offerings. The vibrant and youthful 2012 Schlossberg has some real depth and complexity, but can be enjoyed now as well, it starts with lime and rose petal detail and gathers richness with air, peach, clove and shale unfold with a few swirls, with layers of wet stones, apricot, lemon and verbena all coming forward on the palate. Good fruit density, ripeness and textural mouth feel, but with lifting acidity and structure to hold everything together, again this is elegant and terroir focused Riesling that has a nice mineral spice and steely nature with a lovely long finish that lingers with pineapple, mixed citrus and light earthy/loamy tones. This is wonderfully flavorful dry Riesling from one of Alsace’s best crus, right up there with Weinbach and Trimbach, drink the Albert Mann over the coming 7 to 10 years.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive