Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 21, 2016

2014RidgeLyttonSprings2014 Ridge Vineyards, Lytton Springs, Proprietary Red, Dry Creek Valley.
The stylish and sophisticated 2014 Lytton Springs has an almost subtle appeal in it’s youthful stage, but with classic Zinfandel charm and detail, this is glorious stuff with balance, life and length, one of the most impressive all around Lytton Springs I can remember! Of the latest set of Zinfandel based releases this one is the least flamboyant or overtly fruity by Ridge this vintage, though it it might just have the most going on and certainly it has everything it needs to have to please and age well, while the 2014 old vine Pagani Ranch has lavish extravagance and is a blockbuster now, they both will be great in a decades time, the 2014 Ridge Lytton Springs is less showy and billowing, though still wonderfully seductive and sensual on the palate with black raspberry, boysenberry, cherry and dusty plum fruits leading the way with anise, wild sage, mineral notes as well as cedar, pepper and baking spices. As it opens up the latest Lytton gives a dense mouth feel and lingers with currant, a touch of floral Dimension and red berry along with ripe tannins, a lift of acidity and creamy/smoky mocha. The 2014 Lytton Springs with 69% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 11% Carignane and 2% Mourvedre (or Mataro as Ridge calls it) and comes in at a well judged 14.4% Alcohol, from old vines, some dated back to 1902, all added together makes for a historic and impressive showing, this is without question a great wine and a wine that has a real and honest sense of place, it has the allure, sex appeal and spice of a Chateauneuf-du-Page and structured form of a right bank Bordeaux! All the Ridge offerings are gorgeous this Fall, leading the way is 2013 Monte Bello, but the Zin blends from this 2014 vintage are stunning California stars, especially this Lytton Springs, as well as the mentioned Pagani, Ponzo and don’t forget the earlier released Geyserville, they all should drink fantastic for the next 10 to 15 years easy!
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 20, 2016

2015GroissGemischter2015 Weingut Ingrid Groiss, Gemischter Satz, Braitenpuechtorff, Weinviertel, Austria.
Ingrid Groiss has really taken the wine world by storm in recent years and it is always a rare treat to sample her authentic and passion filled wines, especially what maybe her signature offering, the white field blend, Gemischter Satz, which is Austria’s white version of a heritage wine. In California, our oldest and most treasured vineyards were the ones that were planted with many different varietals inter-planted together, like Old Hill Ranch and Bedrock in Sonoma where they had originally had something like 19 different kinds of grapes all mixed into the sites, well Austrian traditionally did the same with whites, the resulting wine is the Gemischter Satz and Ingrid’s version has an amazing array of varietals in it including Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau, Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Grauburgunder, Pinot Blanc, Frühroter Veltliner, Neuburger, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, Sämling, Roter Veltliner, Grauer Vöslauer, Hietl Rote, Weiße Vöslauer and Silberweiße! Many I’ve never heard of before and certainly can’t pronounce! All the grapes here grow together and are harvested together, it is a pure terroir expression and makes for an intriguing wine, this 2015 is brisk and electric on the palate, feeling like a Txakolina with zesty lime, white peach, green apple, unripe pear along with light mango, lemon and tangerine bouncing around in the zesty cascade of flavors plus mineral tones, minty herbs, white flowers and wet stones adding to the complexity of this light, bright and steely refreshing white. With air and time in the glass this invigorating white gains a serious/austere presence, but always stays vibrant, dry and cooly crisp. This winery in Breitenwaida, in the Weinviertel DAC, north of Vienna, is one of Austria’s rising stars and Ingrid has a gift, this is a lovely and dynamic wine, be sure to look for her wines, this lady is a true talent and her wines reflect that, I love her Rose of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt and her Gruners are Rieslings as well, these are focused and unique wines of great detail and character, with 2015 looking like another fine year, not quite to the heights of 2013, but worth stocking up on!
($25 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 19, 2016

2013GuimaroMeixeman2013 Guimaro, Mencia, Finca Meixeman, Ribeira Sacra, Spain.
Galicia’s Pedro Rodriguez makes some of the most thrilling wines in Spain, his Guimaro Mencia reds are something special and they get better and better with each vintage, based in the Ribeira Sacra his small winery is on a roll. Pedro has been greatly influenced by Raúl Pérez of Bierzo, one of Spain leading winemakers and one of the true unique characters in wine, who has leant young Pedro Rodriguez a guiding hand, helping Guitar become one of the most sought after Mencias in the region, Rodriguez employs ancient and mostly natural methods traditional to this old region that was even highly regarded during Roman times, wild yeast, low sulphur, used oak or no wood and some stem inclusion winemaking is employed, while the grapes are organic and from some of the most dramatic vineyard sites imaginable, the Ribeira Sacra looks like the Mosel region of Germany with a little of France’s Cote-Rotie thrown in! The slate and granite schist soils, steep terraces and cooler western climate help make these wines some of the most stunning medium weight wines in the world with gorgeous flavors the bounce from the Loire to Burgundy in style with maybe a touch of the Jura as well, but remaining uniquely terroir driven and speak in Gallego, the language of Galicia! The 2013 Guimaro Finca Meixeman is a single field blend, based on and mainly Mencia, it also has native varietals that include Caiño, Merenzao (Trousseau), Souson and others, it was fermented with 40% whole clusters from 70 years old vines in the family’s original vineyard at over 400 meters up the slope, it shows vigorous intensity and depth with earthy notes, striking mineral and flinty spices. The palate is firm and shows the cool climate acidity, and 2013 was cool, making for some scary late picking in October, but that long hang-time has paid off with complexity and depth in this very dark Mencia, it shows black currant, vibrant cherry, wild plum, dried violets, peppery spice and hints of game, basil and cedar. This Finca Meixeman is quite tight and tannic to start and needs time to wake up in the glass, but when it does it really takes off, amazing length and layering comes through with sexy florals, blue fruits and textures. The 2013 Meixeman is a classic vintage with Atlantic influences shinning through, maybe not as exotic as 2011 was, but certainly one that will endure and gain with time in the cellar, best from 2018 to 2028, another beautiful and stylish wine from Guimaro, be sure to search this one out, only about 300 cases were made!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 18, 2016

2012VajraRavera2012 G.D. Vajra, Barolo “Ravera” Piedmonte, Italy.
These 2012’s are turning out to be much better than anyone could have hoped in Barolo, in fact I think, especially as young Barolo they are as good if not more pleasing than the 2010’s! My first reaction when tasting this new, coming in November, Vajra Ravera 2012 was “Wow Giuseppe!” and after tasting through the latest releases of Vajra, I am even more impressed, the talent of Giuseppe Vajra and these vineyards are something truly magical, these are thrilling wines and true expressions of place, and in particular this glorious 2012 Ravera, this is as good as Nebbiolo gets and then some! It is worth noting that both Vajra’s top Cru Barolo, this one and his Bricco delle Viole are gorgeous wines, and in fact with a bit more time in bottle the Viole might just surpass this Ravera, it is slightly less intense at this stage, but oh my it is silky sexy! I opted to focus on Ravera, because it showed a bit more blunt force and earthy tannin behind it’s heavenly deep and layered fruit, at this point it has more gravitas and if you were comparing each to Grand Cru Burgundy, and I do for all the right reasons, you’d say Ravera was a bit more Chambertin to Bricco delle Viole’s Musigny! The 2012 G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera Cru starts with a bang, black and red fruits, spice, earth, hints of game, ceps and mixed floral notes and minty herbs led by dried roses, distilled violet, lavender oil, tar, salted black licorice, stony mineral, porcini, new leather and cedar all playing backing parts to black cherry, damson plum, balsamic strawberry and tangy currants on the firmly controlled palate. Everything is seamless and focused, good exciting acidity, polished textures, gripping tannin and perfectly weighted and expressive fruit, detailed complexity, what an amazing Nebbiolo that is both classic and pure, but also hauntingly exotic and sensual, another stunner from Vajra, this wonderful wine looks to be a must have, make sure you are first in line to get some and be greedy! The drinking window looks to be wider and longer than 2009, 2010 and 2011, a while a masterpiece like this is great even now, you’ll be rewarded by putting some away, best from 2020 to 2035!
($75 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 17, 2016

2015Babycheeks2015 Brianne Day, Rose of Tannat/Cot “Babycheeks” Applegate Valley, Oregon.
The brilliant and serious cool Brianne day Rose Babycheeks is from vineyards in southern Oregon in Applegate and is an intriguing blend of co-fermented Tannat, a French Basque grape found in southwest France and used in Irouleguy and Cot (Malbec) the grape of Cahors and found in the Loire Valley where it is known as Cot. Brianne fermented the grapes together whole cluster, racked off the lightly colored juice off into neutral wood and after fermentation it was cold stored in stainless to settle and keep vibrantly fresh. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon also features Tannat in a pink wine, but this might be the first time I’ve heard of Malbec and Tannat together in a Rose, though I imagine it might have happened in South America? and it works well! The 2015 Babycheeks is vivid pinkish orange and has some zesty flavors a hint of tannin and drinks wonderfully with sour cherry, watermelon, crisp red citrus and light strawberry notes along with mineral tones, wet stones, wild rosemary, minty herb and rosewater. Brisk and frisky with just enough body and substance to make it textured, but with solid acidity driving the wine, superb on it’s own with savor/tanginess and great with food. Brian Day’s whole lineup is impressive, leaning to a natural side of things, her Willamette Pinots are lovely wines, though I noticed a bit of sediment and cloudiness that might challenge some people’s taste, but they are likely to improve nicely and clear up over time, they are 2014’s so I imagine with good cellaring they will be magic in a few years time, her other reds from Applegate are even better, with her 2014 Running Bare Mae’s Vineyard which is Cabernet Franc, Tannat and Cot (Malbec) being my favorite at this stage, and of course this Rose.
($26 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 16, 2016

2013CorisonCS2013 Corsion, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
One of California’s top Cabernets and a winery you must visit, Corison is where it’s at with a gorgeous lineup of savvy and pure wines, I was lucky enough to taste through on a recent day trip to Napa as everyone in the valley was rushing to get things in order for the fast approaching harvest 2016. Sadly I missed Cathy Corison herself, but the wines spoke elegantly for her and told an amazing story of her passion and hard work, from California’s first woman winemaker/vineyard/winery owner, she has made historic wines under her own label since the late 80’s and at Chappellet before that! While her Kronos Vineyard is her pride and joy, a wine that needs no introduction, I also love her Helios Sun Basket Cabernet Franc and her Anderson Valley dry Gewürztraminer, done in a vital Alsace like style, but I couldn’t not pick her main wine and currant offering the 2013 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as my pick of the day, it’s a beauty and has the potential to be nearly perfect, loaded with deep fruit, complexity and graceful in balance and length. Corison like Ridge (Monte Bello) are fantastically Californian in style and purity, but they also have souls like First Growth Bordeaux, especially when you taste older vintages, certainly when tasting Cathy’s 1999 Napa along side you were transported to Pauillac, and this 2013 is like a young Latour, but much more giving and drinkable even this young, this is a classic in the making. The 2013 Napa highlights a forward vintage, but a wine with extraordinary detail and gripping focus, you can feel the underlying power and depth, this vintage starts with classic smoky violets, black fruits and creme de cassis and has a full bodied rich texture and a palate played with dusty plums, blackberry, mocha, licorice, sweet tobacco leaf, cinnamon/vanilla and mild loamy earth. Somewhat old school, like Dunn, the Corison Cabernet is not a fruit bomb or like chocolate fudge in the glass, this is wine not sexed up for scores, but made in a style that evokes the magic of place and has everything you’d ever want in a wine, and in particular a wine that will be for a special moment in the future, as great as it is now for a young wine, it will be so much better in 10 or 15 years, hopefully I’ll be around and have the chance to taste this wine again in 20 years! For a winery on the famous HWY 29, Corison is tiny and reflects personal commitment to quality, you should get on her list and be sure to visit, even for a long time wine pro, this was one of the best Napa experiences I’ve had, I have total admiration for Cathy and her wines, some of best there is, plus her staff, especially Silas who gave a gatecrasher like me such a great tasting, it was truly awe inspiring, and each wine was a marvel, this 2013 Cabernet, the 1999 Cabernet, the 2013 Helios Franc, the vibrant Gewurz, and the holy cow masterpiece that was the 2012 Kronos! A special place, a special day and wonderful people, wow, so look for the current 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and put some away, it’s a treasure, drink from 2018 to 2035.
($90 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 15, 2016

2013MinchinFrancCot2013 Domaines Minchin, La Claux Delorme, Touraine Rouge “Franc du Cot-Lie” Loire Valley, France.
This deeply colored and richly intense red from Domaines Minchin’s La Claux Delorme is a stunner, it was crafted using hand picked and rigorously sorted Cabernet Franc and Cot (Malbec) from vineyards within then Touraine area of the Loire Valley. The Franc du Cot-Lie is fermented, after careful de-stemming, in cone shaped vats and aged in barrique, spending at least a year in the oak, which is no surprise as this is a powerful and structured red with tannin to tame. 70% Malbec gives this wine a dense character and blueberry/black currant core along with violets, bitter coco, minty herb, anise and plum, but you can sense the Franc as well with classic mineral, earth, cherry/kirsch and faint bell pepper taking it’s place in the background. This is serious stuff for the money and vintage, very impressive and seductive juice with layered black fruits, spice, earth and mineral with lingering cinnamon, mocha and mulberry. At 12.5% alcohol you’d think medium weight or lighter in style is on offer here, but you’d be wrong, this is full bodied stuff with a big kick and density, you’ll want to have food and more robust cuisine at that to match it up, duck, rabbit, boar all come to mind, though grilled steak and or lamb would do nicely here. This was a special treat from Domaines Minchin, this is a rare and limited offering worthy of the hunt, and Minchin’s La Claux Delorme Blanc and Rouge 2015’s from Valencay are both lovely too, drink the Franc du Cot-Lie Touraine Rouge between 2016 and 2021.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 14, 2016

2012OgierRosine2012 Domaine Michel & Stephane Ogier, Syrah, La Rosine, Collines Rhodaniennes, Rhone, France.
The lovely and serious Syrah La Rosine Collines Rhodaniennes comes from a plot of vines next to Condrieu and granite rich soils making this entry level Syrah a worthy stepping stone to the famous Cote-Rotie offering from this top line estate in the northern Rhone. This clear and precise example from Stephane Ogier was cold fermented in stainless with native/indigenous yeast from 100% de-stemmed grapes and aged a year in neutral/used barrels, it is classic in profile and exceptional in value, this is a wine to indulge in and cherish the quality! Beautiful violets, black olives, earthy spices and detailed mineral and black fruits lead the way with blueberry, black raspberry and subtle cassis unfold on the lively palate along with fresh peppercorns, kirsch, flinty stones, bay leaf, anise and lingering plum. This is supple, medium weight, invigorating and dynamic Syrah with delicate tannins, good acidity, mild alcohol at 12.5% and it explores beauty and grace very well, in the 90’s it was Rostang, Guigal and Colombo, now it is Ogier, Chave and Clape are the northern Rhones you must have! This was a rare treat to taste this wine, and I only hope I can get to find more, viva la Syrah! Drink this over the next 3 to 5 years and never pass up the chance to get the Cote-Rotie from Ogier either!
($32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 13, 2016

2014DenisCarreHCDB2014 Domaine Denis Carre, Bourgogne Rouge Hautes Cotes de Beaune “La Perriere” France.
These 2014 Burgundies are really turning out to be lovely and textured wines and in some cases like these new offerings by Denis Carre they are awesome values! Imported by Charles Neal Selections, the Domaine Denis Carre wines are pretty new to the market, but while his 2013 were pleasant and enjoyable, the 2014 wines are way up on the next level and they will become favorites for those searching out old school and old world values, these Cotes de Beaune Pinots offer a great array of vibrant red fruit, bramble/spice and chalky mineral intensity with the Pommard and Savigny-Les-Beaune being the ones to take that much more seriously, while this wonderful basic La Perriere Bourgogne Rouge Hauta Cotes de Beaune is more of the right now quaffer with pure Burgundy character, feel and pleasure. Carre is based in Meloise, this is directly west of Pommard and Volnay, north of Saint-Romain and sits on classic clay and limestone, he makes his wines in a clean and clear style, practicing mostly organic and hand vineyard work, he employs native yeast ferments and cold soaks in the cellar, aging the reds in mostly used barrique and tank. The 2014 Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune Rouge is lively and playful with a mix of cherry, rose petal, wild herb and dusty stones leading the way in this light to medium weight Pinot, at first you admire the grace and subtle flavors, but the richness builds on the palate revealing a stylish confident and persistent wine with layers of black cherry, plum and strawberry fruit, mineral spice, loamy notes, a hint of cedar, game/earthy elements, briar tanginess and a trace of tea, anise and cinnamon/nutmeg. This noise ruby hued Burgundy is very attractive from start to finish, easy to and eager to please, it can be drunk young and has enough substance and vitality to go on a few years in the cellar as well, it is especially brilliant for the price, best from 2017 to 2022.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 12, 2016

2014MontmirailVacqueryras2014 Domaine du Grand Montmirail, Vacqueyras, Le Soleil de Rosalie, Rhone Red, France.
The 2014 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Vacqueryras is a gorgeous and surprising haunting Rhone with real terroir expression and amazing life and character with the Syrah really shinning through at this stage with black and blue fruits bursting from the glass with peppercorns, lavender/sage and violets adding incredible dynamics. No question here, Yves Cheron, winemaker here at Domaine du Grand Montmirail, has made a special wine in 2014 from his hillside vines in Vacqueryras and while known more for his Gigondas, this vintage of Vacqueryras is the star, made from 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah and about 10% Mourvedre, it was de-stemmed, and fermented with native yeasts in cement, all temp controlled to keep maximum freshness, and aged without any oak all in enamel lined vats that sit under ground to keep cool. The Cheron family came from Burgundy, and Yves studied there and has that kind of pursuit of elegance in his winemaking, he certainly allows the vineyards to speak in their true voice and I can say, this 2014 is about the best example of Vacqueryras I can ever remember and especially for the price!This is a southern Rhone with the unique qualities of a northern Rhone, it’s like you took a nice Nuits-St.-Georges, a St.-Joseph and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and added a rosemary twig, it’s seductively graceful, dark fruited and has lovely spiciness and earthy notes with fine textures! The nose is gorgeously pure with natural garrigue and violets, deep color in the glass and copious black raspberry, boysenberry, tangy currant, damson plum and a blueberry/strawberry compote along with a mixed array of spices, herbs, hints of olive, licorice and a peppery thrill. Sweet tannins, vibrant acidity and lingering liqueur notes add to the joyousness of this medium weight, almost full, Rhone red, it’s everything you’d want and expect with an extra bit of wow factor, I’m totally hooked here, this is vividly clear, mysterious with remote beauty, very sexy stuff!
($22 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive