Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 21, 2016

2011NoGirlsGrenache2011 No Girls, Grenache, La Paciencia Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley.
No Girls is a spin off from Cayuse with Christophe Baron over seeing and making the wine since the first release in 2008, though his assistant Elizabeth Bourcier is now taking over the winemaking duties for this amazing project, they craft two wines, a Grenache and a Syrah from a single vineyard La Paciencia (The Patience) in the Walla Walla region. No Girls the name is a shout out to some of the town of Walla Walla’s colorful past and historic sites, the label is from a handwritten sign outside a former bordello, it was to keep the women outside from seeing what was going on inside! Forgetting the story a moment, the No Girls Grenache is a monumental wine of profound presence, this stunning example of varietal and terroir is on par with any great Grenache be it Rayas, Sadie Family or Alban, this is gorgeous, sensual and dreamy wine that seduces with purity of unoaked fruit and natural earth, spice and inner life force. It is complexly wild and dramatic while still being focused, detailed and serene, this amazingly compelling Grenache was native yeast fermented, whole cluster without using barrel or cask, but old school vat raised, and even in such a difficult vintage there is no way not to be completely seduced. The 2011 La Paciencia Grenache starts with earthy spices, wild flowers, minty herb, truffle and mixed red berries leading to a full and vigorous palate that does not feel heavy or overly ripe, there is a sensation that you get that reminds you of a Grand Cru Burgundy, a sense of thrilling, spine tingling enlightenment and pleasure, this stuff is sexy as hell with strawberry, black cherry, plum, vine picked raspberry along with black olive, loam, peppercorns, salted licorice and light gamey notes. Persistent and long lingering in the mouth and mind this No Girls seduces and takes no prisoners, like I said there is not many wines that are on this level, it really is is rare company, more open knit than it’s cousin Cayuse this is a bucket list new world wine!
($130 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 20, 2016

2015AndrewMurrayRose2015 Andrew Murray, Esperance Rose of Cinsault, Curtis Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley.
The 2015 Esperance Rose is 100% Cinsault and it shines brightly pink in the glass with crisp dry fruity character in the glass, this is vibrant and delicious Provence style Rose. Tangy with stony/mineral elements this classy pink has loads of energy, Andrew has crafted another great wine and value, this wine and his basic Syrah are stunning values and great easy to drink Rhone/Provence inspired beauties, especially this unique and flavorful Rose of Cinsault. The palate is brisk and tart with watermelon, sour cherry, citrus dipped strawberry and red nectarine as well as a mix of bitter herb, pepper, saline and sticky lavender adding complexity and contrast. Impressive for it’s presence and persistence this is a serious Rose, it certainly can be sipping cool and refreshing, but is more likely at it’s best with cuisine and it’s got got guts and is robust enough to stand up to bold flavors and meat dishes even, this is flexible and focused Rose. Andrew Murray is making some of his best wines yet, his whole current lineup from whites to reds and this pink are worth exploring, these are quality wines that have soul and poise. Drink this Rose of Cinsault over the next year, perfect for the beach, backyard and warm summer nights.
($19 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 19, 2016

2011GiovanniRossoCerretta2011 Giovanni Rosso, Barolo, Cerretta, Piedmonte, Italy.
Davide Rosso’s gorgeous and silky Cerretta Cru Barolo is a young Nebbiolo that you can enjoy even now, though it certainly can age a decade or more, the 2011 has lush almost sweet tannins that add structure, but fold beautifully into the wine with any harsh edges. This striking Barolo has deep flavor, charm and hedonistic pleasure flowing in smooth layers from start to finish, this is pure as can be, traditionally crafted and wonderfully detailed with poise and terroir infused nobility. The 2011 Cerretta is denser than the basic Serralunga with a lavish texture, but still has the vibrant intensity and style, all the Giovanni Rosso wines are sublime, especially this one with it’s Burgundy like elegance and lengthy satiny mouth fell and graceful presence in the glass. The palate of the 2011 Cerretta starts with dried roses and dark floral tones, hints of cedary spice, minty herb and a cascade of red fruits with plum, cherry and tangy vine berries leading the way along with loamy earth, tarry salted black licorice, lavender tea and a touch of game. In it’s expressive youth the fruit feels full and ripely opulent, but I can sense the overall extract and complexity is all there for some fantastic evolving over the next 5 or 7 years in bottle. It is really joyous now, and it would not be bad to celebrate it’s openess with cuisine sooner v later, it is nice to be able to buy a bottle of great Nebbiolo and pop it open and totally feel no quilt and get maximum understanding of the place and varietal, this is that wine, it’s worthy of your cellar with out a doubt. I’m a huge fan of this winery and their 2008’s and 2010’s are masterpieces, but if you want a sleeper vintage to covet these 2011’s are fantastic!
($90 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 18, 2016

2015SignalRidgeWhiteZin2015 Signal Ridge Vineyard “White Zin” Dry Rose of Zinfandel, Mendocino Ridge.
Though the name is playful and ironic, this is serious stuff with a vibrant dry character, very removed from the sweet blush almost pancake syrup style of white Zinfandel that is made for people that hate wine! Stephanie Rivin and team at Signal Ridge Vineyard are making some really well made wines way up in the Mendocino Ridge AVA above the Anderson Valley in the wilds of Mendocino County, this family run and hand crafted producer makes a lovely set of offerings, including a great Carignane, Zinfandel, some bubbly, a crisp Chardonnay and a superb Pinot Noir. This “White Zin” Dry Rose is the latest and was done on a whim, it has turned out remarkably well and bone dry brisk. Rivin needed the grapes ripe, but with vigorous acidity and nature provided the raw material to get this fun pink done, at 13.7% it is not a wimpy Rose, but it is seriously dry and vital with a refreshing bitter/savory kick and lingering stony elements to go along with juicy citrus, watermelon, sour cherry and hints of raspberry as well as rosewater, fennel and sage. This is one of the best Zin roses I’ve tried, the steely mineral and mouth watering saline and chalky wet rock complexity sets it apart and it already has me chuckling at the thought of serving “White Zin” to my friends, this is a cool wine, look for it and drink without pretense over the next 6 months to a year, impressive again from a winery to watch!
($17 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 17, 2016

2012ScavinoBricdelFiasc2012 Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Bric del Fiasc, Piedmonte, Italy.
Scavino’s Fiasco Cru is from Castiglione Falletto, first made in 1978, though it has been in the family since 1921, it is one of the most sought after wines in Piedmont and the 2012 is lovely, elegant and textured capturing the soul of Barolo. It was an honor to meet and taste with Elisa Scavino, all of the 2012 and 2013 Nebbiolo wines were stunningly pure and detailed from the basic Langhe Nebbiolo to the gorgeous Bric del Fiasc, this was one of the best young set of Barolo I’ve tasted in years! The 2012 Bric del Fiasc starts with a deep perfume of red rose petal, mineral and subtle cedar and a mix of red and blue fruits leading to an expansive palate with amazing mouth feel and textural pleasure. The layers of black cherry, damson plum, tangy currant and lush strawberry linger for days along with sweet tannin, hints of tar, minty herb, anise and saline rich stones. A light earthiness and fresh personality highlight the energy and complex nature of this beautiful Nebbiolo that is showing remarkably gracious, but should be wonderful for decades, this is impressive wine, a world class Barolo that pleases with finesse, though has an underlying power and terroir force that drives it. The Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc should be coveted and cellared, it is a glorious wine, and if you want to grab a value, you should search out the Barolo normale, which is also extremely lovely and retails for $45, these 2012’s are classic styled Barolo and are incredibly seductive!
($98 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 16, 2016

2015Regueiro2015 Quinta do Regueiro, Alvarinho Reserva, Moncao e Melgaco, Portugal.
Paulo Rodrigues crafts an amazing 100% Alvarinho (Albarino) from a collection of small plots with some vines know to be about 150 years old, this tiny winery is one of the very few going it alone and not made by a large co-op in the Vinho Verde and Minho region. With gorgeous fresh detail and vibrant acidity this native yeast, natural white is stainless raised and has some lees aging to add complexity and depth, this is a great example of quality Alvarinho from Portugal and even rivals some of the top Spanish wines, it shows fine mineral character and very vivid and brisk. The 2015 vintage is full of personality and charm with subtle exotic tropical elements adding to it’s seductive allure, the nose displays white flowers, sea breeze, steely notes and orchard fruits leading to a zesty palate that is lean, focused and driving with tension showing green apple, white peach, mixed citrus and passion fruit. Everything is clear and persistent with eye popping vivacious grapefruit like tanginess with hints of stony chalk and sea shore pebbles, this is gripping Alvarinho, it’s natural alcohol is about 12% making for a delicately weighted wine that is still full of flavor and extract, similar to an Aussie blisteringly dry Riesling or Austrian Gruner, perfect for summer, both as an afternoon cooler or a warm evening pleaser, perfect with seafood, especially mussels, oysters and clams or fried white fish. This is a real steal and a wine lovers wine made by a small artisan winemaker with an intense passion that is also reflected in his wine and terroir, small amounts are imported by Threshold Wine Company, this is a stellar white to search out, both the 2014 and this newly released 2015 vintage are exceptional.
($19 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 15, 2016

2013FoillardEponym2013 Jean Foillard, Morgon “Les Charmes” Cuvee Eponym, Cru Beaujolais, France.
Foulard makes Gamay wines that drink like Premier Cru Burgundy, these are exceptional wines of profound impact and personality, I’ve been in love with Jean Foillard’s Morgons since the 2005 and even lesser years like 2006 and 2007 were gorgeous, and of course the whole wine world went completely nuts for the 2009 vintage. Foillard’s main wine is the “Cote du Py” but there are rare limited other cuvees like his “3.14 cuvee Pi” and the lovely “Cuvee Corcelette” as well as the black label Fleurie, a heavenly Gamay creation from a tiny plot of Fleurie, and then there is this Cuvee Eponym “Les Charmes” a totally new one for me, and a wine I was most excited to sample! The Eponym is made from the highest elevation site in Morgon, 45 to 50 year old Gamay vines on granite, schist and manganese soils, as with all of Jean Foillard’s wines it is whole cluster, all organic and with no added SO2 during ferments, the wines are raised in used Burgundy barrels, except Corcelette which uniquely is done in one single large Foudre. The top of the hill Lieu-Dit Les Charmes gives an added intensity, in fact it is a very nervy with hard bitter shrillness that was surprising at first, but thankfully first impressions give way and this gorgeous Gamay changed it’s tune with a bit of air revealing an inner beauty of Gamay heaven, while never letting you forget it’s structure and peaky qualities. After an hour this Morgon showed it’s best side with violets, walnut oil, blackberry, tangy dark currant and sweet kirsch as well as stem tannins, savory spices, shale/stone, mixed herb, cinnamon bark, earth and tart wild strawberry. This is the most edgy of the Foillard offerings, but certainly very thought provoking, intriguing and powerful in an almost Cornas kind of way without losing any of it’s own sense of place or varietal pureness, I think over time this charmer will be even more sensational, it might just be a bit firm or tight to be fully appreciated without cuisine. Just to let you know too, this cuvee Eponym comes in with natural alcohol at 11.7% which is quite low, but again highlights terroir, artistry and passion hidden behind an icy stare, brilliant stuff, if not as wildly seductive as Foillard’s other wines.
($40 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 14, 2016

2014SuccesTrepot2014 Succes, Trepot, La Cuca de LLum, Conca de Barbera D.O. Spain.
The Succes La Cuca de Llum made from the rare Trepot grape is a delicate and natural red, lighter and brighter than you’d imagine a wine from the wilds of south west Catalunya would taste like, it reminds me a bit of Nerello Mascalese and Poulsard if you ever were to mix the two! These come from vines near the Montblanc region which has higher elevation, dramatic landscapes and a mix of fine terroir with soils that are mineral rich with schist and granite veins. Trepot, an ancient varietal that was almost exclusively found in Cava is making a remarkable comeback from near extinction and or obscurity to be the darling of this lesser known and rugged region. Tiny amounts of this beauty are imported by Trumpet Wines, and while almost impossible to find, you should search for these wines from Succes, the white is very good and unique too, but the Trepot, raw and transparent really is a seductive creature, vibrant, vivid and alluring with tart cherry, raspberry, exotic tea notes and dusty spices make it wildly compelling. The light ruby color, lifting acidity and earthy fruits lead the way in this intriguing light to medium bodied red with natural alcohol just over 12% (12.5% in this vintage) it also makes you think of the mineral driven reds of the Loire. Minty/lavender, spiced red peach and bitter herbs also come through on the light structured palate along with strawberry/rhubarb add tangy contrast as well as a hint of savory stone elements with lingering chalk, saline and red currants. This is a fun and interesting red to wine geek out to, drink over the next 2 to 3 years.
($17 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 13, 2016

2014DrewPN2014 Drew, Pinot Noir, The Gatekeeper, Mendocino.
The beautiful and youthful new Drew Gatekeeper is a complete and detailed wine with succulent red and blue fruit and complex substance. Jason Drew crafted this beauty from sites in Anderson Valley, the Yorkville Highlands and the sea influenced and windswept Mendocino Ridge, 30%-Morning Dew Ranch, 25% Weir Vineyard, 20% Perli Vineyard, 25% Valenti Ranch, all top cool climate sites, making for a dramatic Pinot Noir expression, and if you are geeky for clones, the Gatekeeper has 828, Rochioli, 2A, 667, 777 and 115. This vintage Drew went with 20% whole cluster, giving a flamboyant and spicy personality while retaining elegance and it was native yeast fermented with a ripe, but lower natural alcohol, at 13.5% it still has plenty of lush character and pleasing textural charm, and vibrant acidity with lots of energy, and it saw just under a year in French oak, which by my own reckoning tasted like mostly neutral, well seasoned barrels, in fact no new wood was used, so the expressive nature of this wine is well preserved. The 2014 starts with a rather dark seductive color in the glass and hints of flowers, spice and stone fruit get you going, the palate is medium weighted with black cherry, wild plum, black raspberry, tangy currant and strawberry layers of fruit, as well as cinnamon stick, light cedar notes, mixed tea with fennel, loamy earth, saline and mineral tones. This bright and structured Pinot shows fine focus and balance, it should age well, but is amazingly easy to cherish even now, this is a vintage to stock up on Drew and it looks like even from this entry level offering, the Drew’s are going to be something special, impressive stuff! On a finishing note, I love the new label design on the 2014 Drew, and The Gatekeeper is great with exotic cuisine, giving depth of flavor, playing nice with an array of spices and bring a huge smile to those sharing it, great job by a talented winemaker, I can’t wait to taste his new Syrah vintage either!
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 12, 2016

2014AmpeleiaAlicante2014 Ampeleia, Alicante, Costa Toscana IGT Rosso, Italy.
The Elisabetta Foradori natural Alicante from Ampeleia is a wonderful and vibrant example of Mediterranean influenced Grenache from the coastal site near Maremma in south western Tuscany. Most commonly found in Spain and France, there is now some provoking thoughts being given to the idea that this grape have in fact come from Sardinia, where it is known as Cannonau, though for the last few decades the wine world thought it was originally from Spain, it is called a few different names in Italy, but Alicante Nero is it’s main moniker, and is no relation the red juiced, super inky, Alicante Bouchet. The Ampeleia Alicante is grown in sandy soils with a pebbly cover, perfect for Grenache, at about 250 meters that allows for a drier/cooler nighttime, which gives freshness and health to the hanging grapes for complex and details flavors with enough acidity to balance the varietal’s sweet fruitiness. The 2014 is opulent and caressing on the palate with red plum, raspberry, loganberry, kirsch and spiced strawberry with pepper, lavender, bay leaf and dusty stones along with hint of peach flesh and anise. This ruby/garnet hued red is lush in mouth feel, but vital and lively with a medium bodied, it was fermented all natural with native yeasts, whole cluster and aged only in cement tanks for 6 months, and with ripe supple tannin smoothly layered into this intriguing organic wine. Ampeleia is a winery to check out with a sublime selection of hand crafted wines to chose from offering a great contrast to Fodadori’s home estate in Alto Adige, drink this Alicante over the next 2 or 3 years.
($34 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive