Monthly Archives: November 2016

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 21, 2016

2014foillardfleurie2014 Jean Foillard, Fleurie Cru Beaujolais, France.
The Foillard Fleurie 2014 is one of the most beautiful Gamay expressions I’ve ever tasted, I am always intrigued by Foillard’s wines and love them completely, year after year, but really this wine is humbling in it’s beauty and detail with a haunting perfume and dream like textures. The black label Fleurie by Foillard is always a rare and magical wine, it is released later and is always a bit lighter and more feline than his Morgon wines, which are gorgeous in this vintage as well, highlighting this exquisite year for Cru Beaujolais. I admit, at $50 a bottle, this might seem seriously expensive for a Beaujolais, but this is no ordinary wine here, this Fleurie has the class, grace and stylish charm of a fine Chambolle-Musigny or Morey-St.-Denis, and in many ways it’s more pleasing and exotic than Burgundy wines at twice it’s price! The Fleurie by Foillard is from 40-50 year old vines grown on a unique site with pink sandstone soils and is farmed all organic, Foillard as noted many times, sorts like a top Burgundy producer would and as a follower of Jules Chauvet uses no chemicals, no chaptalization and ferments are native and nature with almost no sulfur. The Fleurie, like his Cote du Py, is aged in ex-Burgundy barriques, rumor even has it that he gets his used oak barrels from DRC when he can, it spends about 9 months in wood, then rested unfixed and unfiltered in bottle until release, usually a year after the currant vintage of his Morgons. The 2014 is as sexy as it gets, with a deep and glorious floral attack with violets, lilacs and jasmine leading the way before entry that unfolds in heavenly layers of blackberry, plum, wild strawberry and kirsch along with silky tannins, vibrant acidity and spicy notes of pepper, anise, saline rich stones, earthy tones and walnut oil. Still very young, this lovely Gamay seduces completely even now, but this medium bodied and minerally charmer will age with grace and glory for many years to come, best to hide a few bottles away, drink from 2018 to 2026.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2016

2014ojaipnkesslerhaak2014 Ojai, Pinot Noir, Kessler-Haak Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
Adam Tolmach’s The Ojai Vineyard Pinot Noir Kessler-Haak 2014 was one of the sleepers at the final IPOB Tasting in San Francisco, and his whole lineup included some very impressive offerings in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Tolmach’s wines deserve renewed enthusiasm and attention! Tolmach was one of the first to publicly question his own wines and the trend for bigger and bigger styles to appease critics, he worried the wines were losing their soul and ability to age gracefully and severely changed his own path and methods to bring back freshness, elegance and brought his artisan wines back to the vision he originally had. Many now have followed him in this course, and in fact even the critics have followed him, after an initial push back, I’ve always been a fan of his wines, his White Hawk Syrah is a personal favorite, and admire the man greatly for his talents and humble confidence and his latest set of wines, especially his Kessler-Haak Pinot, are lovely and vibrant wines of class, focus and detail. Adam told me at IPOB that this was a new vineyard for him and that he loved the fruit and was excited about what it had become in bottle, as was I, this beautiful and opulent Pinot has layered fruit, poised richness and vigorous energy and life, showing bing cherry, raspberry, black plum and a touch of cranberry and apple skin as well as silken tannins, tea spices, cinnamon, a hint of smoke, fennel and cedar. This medium weight Pinot surprises with outstanding length and pureness and while lithe and seductively shy at first, this wine thrills the senses. At about 13% is feels clear, feline and well defined, I highly recommend this and all the Ojai 2014’s, this stuff is exciting and filled with class, drink over the next 5 to 10 years. I’ve loved what I’ve tasted from Kessler-Haak, Chad Melville’s Samsara stands out as an example, and this new Ojai is excellent, this is a vineyard to watch, awesome stuff!
($36-40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2016

2015guimaromencia2015 Guimaro, Mencia, Ribeira Sacra Tinto, Galicia, Spain.
Bright and juicy the latest Guimaro Vino Tinto is a very forward Mencia with the year’s warm marking this wine, but allowing classic terroir character to still show through. I love the wines of Guimaro and drink this Ribeira Sacra often, Pedro Rodriguez Perez is also one of my favorite winemakers and people, so it was with lots of excitement that I got around to tasting this 2015 version, after cherishing the 2010 through 2014 wines so much, and I was not disappointed as this dark purple/deep red wine is lovely and easily one of the best values around. With a slightly carbonic feel and grapey entry the 2015 Guimaro Mencia starts with an almost Beaujolais note before settling in on the palate to a more natural stance with crushed violets, red rose petal, mineral spice and black cherry, plum, loganberry and tart currant fruits along with cinnamon, flinty stone and a hint of porcini. At about 13% this is a ripe vintage for Pedro, though still with medium body and vibrant acidity, and I sense that there was the ability to use a few whole clusters, though mostly I understand it is usually de-stemmed, native ferments and almost no wood is used here to keep things as fresh as possible in this wine, which is almost all Mencia, but has a few other black grapes found in the vines making for a pure effort that has the profile like Syrah, Pinot, Franc and Gamay mixed together in this vintage. This stylish wine from the beautiful and remote granite, sand and schist slopes of the Ribeira Sacra joins a set of thrilling wines from Jose Pastor Selections that are just now hitting the market, without question you should pick this wine up, it will mature nicely and is right now a winner for fall foods and holiday cuisine, drink from 2016 to 2020.
($19 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2016

2015donnhofffelsenberg2015 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Trocken, Felsenberg, Grosses Gewachs, Nahe Germany.
The spicy intense Felsenberg Grand Cru dry Riesling from Donnhoff is simply out of this world, it is very different and unique the same way Bonnes Mares is to the Grand Crus of the Cote de Nuits, you know it’s special when you experience it, but it still emotionally involves you in the same way the other Crus do. When you think of Donnhoff, the Hermannshole would be La Tache or Romanee-Conti, while Felsenberg would be Bonnes Mares… or like comparing Le Montrachet (Hermannshole) and Corton-Charlemagne (Felsenberg) though I like the Bonnes Mares comparison better in poetic terms rather than in red v. white terms… As for 2015, it is an awesome vintage for Donnhoff (and Germany) and this dry Riesling is one of the best! Brilliant in a way you’d expect from such a producer, yet so nuanced and transparent, I used to be slate obsessed when it came to Riesling, so finding this volcanic or porphyry soil driven wine so magical is sometimes a surprise, giving the Felsenberg a spicy afterburner with salt and pepper kick and raw mineral character. The 2015 Felsenberg GG starts with crystalized ginger, lime blossom and remarkably a kind of dark flower essence and tangy stone fruit with a belt of brisk citrus before a full and driving palate of vibrant tangerine, flinty wet stones, sea breezes (saline) and zesty apricot in a dense and powerful form with racy, but elegant acidity, this wine shines bright with finesse and poised delicacy even in it’s youth, it’s glorious and while it’s second to the Hermannshole GG in opinion that margin is very narrow and this fantastic Riesling might tighten that gap in the years to come! This vigorous white shines a light golden hue in the glass and has layers of texture and depth, hedonistic in many ways, but still shy and blooding in others, it sneaks up on you like a leopard stalking it’s prey. Without question, in terms of the quality and focus these 2015’s from Donnhoff rival any wines, white, red and other from anyone or anywhere, especially these GG’s and dry wines, but it must be said, I loved the Kabinett, Spatlese and the amazing Auslese almost as much, don’t plan to miss any of Cornelius Donnhoff’s masterpieces in this vintage. The Felsenberg GG has at least 15 to 20 years of pure heavenly drinking ahead of it, best though I would think between 2020 and 2030, but seriously, I’d be hard pressed not to open a few as soon as I could, what a great and stylish wine from one of Germany’s best estates. Lingering peach, white cherry, basil, fleshy tropical fruit and exotic Asian spice sweep your mind away in this vital Riesling, sadly I missed Donnhoff on my recent stay in Germany, a mistake that haunts me when I relive my tasting notes from this collection of 2015 beauties I tasted with Anne Donnhoff this summer at Terry Theise’s San Francisco Germany portfolio tasting.
($65 Est.) 94-96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2016

2016poenouveau2016 Poe Wines, Pinot Noir “Pinot Nouveau” Sonoma Coast.
Let the fun begin! A great way to celebrate the latest harvest and toast Nouveau Day the 2016 Poe Pinot Nouveau is a bright and fruity fresh red that has juicy carbonic flavors, but gives a serious look at what the vintage has to offer, and it is looking great from what I can taste! After a year in 2015 that brought a tiny fruit set with a micro amount of grapes per cluster, equals a small uneven crop, for Pinot Noir, but 2016 looks to have come roaring back with wines that might surpass 2014 in density and ripe tannin without being too heavy or alcohol laden in nature. Samantha Sheenan’s set of 2014 Pinots are gorgeous, so I had to mention them here and now, especially her Manchester Ridge from Mendocino and her potentially even better Sonoma Mountain Van der Kamp Pinot, these wines are pure class! Plus her 2014 Ferrington Chardonnay is not a wine to be overlooked either, Poe Wines is a label to discover! Like Bedrock that does a Nouveau Zinfandel, Samantha’s Poe Nouveau Pinot is a super fun project that looks to be a success in the making, at first it seems silly, but the wine is lovely and easy to quaff, with remarkably full expression and poise showing vibrant cherry, strawberry, pomegranate and red raspberry fruit, plus a tangy gentile acidity, while simple it does feel whole and has a touch of complexity with sweet herbs, mineral and spices, finishing with a crisp citrusy note and lingering sweet red berries. Medium bodied and with forward character it will partner up to mixed cuisine and or Thanksgiving fare well and it is really an enjoyable offering, it won’t be easy to find, but worth grabbing while you can, it’s a wonderful non Beaujolais Nouveau California style option to be different, drink now and often! I was thrilled and impressed with Sheenan’s efforts, she has the gift and is very talented at her craft, as I mentioned her Pinots are stunning wines, tasted recently at IPOB’s finale tasting, these Poe 2014’s were right up there with the best of show stuff!
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2016

2014drewmorningdew2014 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Morning Dew Ranch, Anderson Valley.
The absolutely stunning Morning Dew Ranch by Jason Drew is maybe the best wine yet from drew and gorgeous seamless expression of terroir and varietal with beautiful detail, verve and length. Tasted at the IPOB (In Pursuit of Balance) finale tasting in San Francisco, these Drew stood out along with, and along side Cobb, Littorai, Hirsch, Kutch, Big Basin, Domaine de la Cote, Poe and Wind Gap, just to name a few of the stars on display, to give you an idea of just how good these wines were! The 2014’s from Drew and the whole Anderson Valley are as good as it gets with richness and vibrancy, mineral notes, satiny tannins and an extra dose of wow factor. It is really hard to chose between the latest set of Drew Pinots, especially with his Estate bottling being so unique and intense, but I must say this Morning Dew Ranch farmed by Bert Williams really moved me, and after following Drew for more than 10 vintages now, this is an awesome wine, and it has everything you’d ever want and then some. The 2014 Drew Morning Dew starts with a nose of black fruit, wild spices, floral tones and a hint of wood leading to a plummy palate of mixed blue and red fruits with black cherry, blueberry, plum and currant as well as cinnamon, mineral/stone, forest floor and a touch of shaved vanilla. The density is impressive as is the stylish silkiness leaving a mouth coating roundness, but with lots of youthful vitality and held together with cool/crisp acidity, as well as the wine’s ability to soak up and almost completely cover any traces of oak, this is very pure and decedent Pinot Noir. With air everything unfolds gracefully and with complex seductive charm, you’ll want to find this Drew Morning Dew, and it will age well, easily going the distance, best from 2018 to 2028. Jason has crafted a great set of wines in this vintage and his new label design, which came into being completely with this vintage looks the part, his low alcohol style and Burgundy like focus really came together with this extraordinary year with each wine highlighting individual character and graces, don’t miss them.
($60 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2016

2015alfredorose2015 Alfredo Maestro, Rosado de Lagrima “Amanda” Castilla y Leon, Spain.
The all organic and delicately beautiful Rosado Amanda comes from 60 year old Alicante Bouschet grown at 850 meters up in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain on clay and calcareous soils. Alfredo Maestro’s small lot artisan wines are some of the most interesting in Spain and he is part of a new wave of young winemakers that are the new Spain, making terroir and traditional/historical influenced wines, his wines are playful and soulful with pure character and seriously pleasing on the palate. This vintage of Amanda Rosado by Alfredo Maestro is the best yet with it’s super pale pinkish hue and detailed finesse and charms, fermented with native yeasts with subtle skin contact and no sulfur added, this vat raised pink wine has vibrant strawberry, white and red tangy cherry and mineral notes leading the way with hints of white pepper, wet stone as well as zesty red peach and citrus, along with a whiff of rosewater and vine picked raspberry. The cool nights allow the Alicante Bouschet’s (Garnacha Tintorera as it is known in Spain) acidity to flourish and with the heat of the summer it can be picked very early for this Rose style wine. Maestro’s natural techniques have gained worldwide acclaim, there is never any additives or sulfur used, all the work is focused on the vines and preserving the freshness and true varietal core. The 2015 Amanda Rosado is a wonderful expression and a fine example of everything that Maestro is trying to capture, this is a wine that can be enjoyed all year long and in any season as well as with lots of cuisine choices, but it is perfect for our warm fall days plus it makes for a perfect starter wine for the holiday meals to come, be sure to check it out, imported by Farm Wines and Jose Pastor Selections.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2016

2015dielgoldlochgg2015 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Trocken, Dorsheimer Goldloch Grosses Gewachs, Nahe Germany.
A masterwork from Caroline Diel, the glorious Goldloch Grand Cru dry Riesling delivers seamless grace, underlying power and energy with depth that is hard to imagine or explain in mere words, in fact the GG’s I tasted at Diel this last trip to Germany were right up there with the best ever white wines I’ve ever tasted period, I mean they are equal to some fantastic stuff, including great vintages of Batard-Montrachet from Leflaive, Lafon Meursault, Raveneau Chablis and Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume! The thing is, especially if you’ve not ventured into these magical dry style Grosses Gewach, or Erste Lage Rieslings, they have the force and concentration usually reserved for chiseled red wines in terms of density and feel, though the acidity keeps things bracing and racy, and Diel especially has that sense and this one transcends the whole white v. red division. Caroline’s set of 2015 wines just blew me away, everyone has a sense of her style, a certain connection to her terroir and are extremely complex, elegant and wonderfully composed from her dry style offerings to her sweeter Kabinett, Spatlese and her off the charts fabulous Auslese, but without a doubt her 2015 Grosses Gewachs will go down as legend, and in my opinion, this Goldloch especially with it’s amazingly deep detail and potential perfection. Seeing the Dorsheimer Goldloch itself, you almost just know this is a shine to Riesling, it’s unbelievably steep slopes and southeast facing looks impressive and leaves you in awe of what it takes to farm and pick this site, it is composed of an ancient mix of soils a cover of clay, over bedrock and mainly gravel, with slight intrusions of quartzite, slate, volcanic and loess. Caroline loves the hard and gritty work in the vines and really gets into the dirt, she is down to earth, passionate and her wines reflect that and her precision in the cellar clearly is on display in each bottle. The Goldloch stands out as a true great wine, it doesn’t hide behind it’s youth, it shows itself in all of it’s glory even now, though of course it’s just beginning it’s journey to even greater worlds, it has a rich and regal mouth feel, a beautiful transparency and pureness of mission with golden hues and brightness, it begins with a white flower and delicate rose petal perfume, light earthy tones, talc or chalk salty essences along with vibrant citrus leading to a palate of expanding force, layered with lime, green apple, tangy apricot and tropical notes. There’s a peachy/fleshy succulent texture, soft wood notes, sweet herb, fig, lemon tea complexities along with a dominate spicy mineral streak and the extract coats your mouth, but subtle in tone and with elegant grace and the length is just stunning, this wine leaves you with an almost life changing impact, you know you’ve experienced something utterly profound and it leaves a mark! A huge thank you to everyone at Schlossgut Diel for making time for me on a busy harvest time day without much of a warning to make me feel welcome and blessing with such a set of wines, I’m forever grateful! The Schlossgut Diel wines are rare, imported by Terry Theise, and limited, so search them out and cherish them, in particular the GG’s, but don’t overlook anything from Diel! The 2015’s are special stuff, these GG’s, and Caroline’s Auslese are long term investments and should age well for 20 to 30 years!
($70 Est.) 97+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2016

2015monasterionovicio2015 Monasterio de Corias, Albarin Negro/Mencia Cangas Joven Selección “Novicio” Asturias, Spain.
There are some wines, where points and seriousness are not part of the joy of just drinking good wine and while this wine is serious and outstanding through an objective lens it is a wine I just like to drink and smile with, the Monasterio de Corias Joven Novice Albarin Negro-Mencia is absolutely a pleasure in the glass. The 2015 Novicio is wonderfully textured, no oak, juicy red wine that is pure and deeply flavorful with dark purple/garnet hues and vibrantly refreshing, though earthly complex with a lovely mix or black, blue and red fruits, loamy stoniness, lightly spicy and with a touch of savory and floral tones. A blend of the rare Albarin Negro, not relation to Albarino, and Mencia, the Monasterio de Corias Novicio is native yeast fermented in stainless, from 30 year old vines near the old Monastery where the winery gets it’s name, and raised in vat with no oak for a short time, only about 1,200 cases get made of this delightful red, when I need a pleasing everyday wine I can always trust this one to bring lots of happy contentment to my being! This lovely and easy to love quaffer, dark, but not heavy, shows blackberry, cherry, plum and blueberry fruits that are both fruity and tangy with soft tannins and bright acidity, making for a medium weighted wine of verve, playful on the palate and slightly rustic in a cool way, like a lighter Syrah with the earth and peppery spice, but fresh like Chianti can be plus elegantly poised like a fresh Pinot Noir or Bourgogne along with a touch of Jura (Trousseau) or Beaujolais (Gamay) added in! Kind of hard to put this fun and well crafted wine in a narrow box, but what is true is it’s unique and delightful nature, and it’s exceptional value! This is a brilliant wine made by wonderful people in northwest Spain, look for this food friend red, it is also a great holiday meal wine that pairs well with the classics.
($20 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2016

2014tempier2014 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvee Classique, Provence, France.
The latest set of Bandol Rouge from the iconic Domaine Tempier are some of best yet from this very famous estate and show vibrant fruit, powerful tannins and focused detail, I love each and everyone of the Crus and especially this basic red, called by most the Cuvee Classique. This vintage is a blend of 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan, no Syrah added here and is all organic, they are studying biodynamic methods, and the vines are all over 40 years old set in rocky clay and limestone, it shows the dominate Mourvedre throughout and has a deep almost black hue, this 2014 is really a classic or traditional vintage after some inconsistent years, while I adore the 2013 for it’s lighter frame and easy drinking as a young wine, it doesn’t have the feel and concentration of this 2014, and while hugely enjoyable this new wines will be 20 to 30 year wines and offer a great value for such cellar worthy reds. Impressive life force and layers intrigue in these wines, and the 2014 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge expresses lots of pure earthy/spicy fruit density along with meaty side notes, plus mineral, stony elements as well as ground pepper, fresh cut lavender, iron and dried violets. The nose gives bright floral, red berry, tar and minty herbs before leading to a gripping palate of plum, black cherry, wild berry and currant fruits with mixed spice, licorice, savory leather, loam and dust with mouth coating tannins that are not harsh, but persistent and chalky, air allows the fruit core to take back over and if you drink this Bandol young, best to decant and serve with robust cuisine, it is certainly a class act and wonderfully complete, complex and engaging. This is a gorgeous set of wines from Tempier, this is a super effort in particular, but both the Tourtine, my personal favorite and the massive Cabassaou, which is almost all Mourvdere and older vines, is almost perfection with amazing depth, flair and potential!
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive