Monthly Archives: November 2017

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 21, 2017

2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Spanish Springs Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County.
Randall Grahm doesn’t get enough credit for his Pinot Noir(s) with all the wild and unique stuff he does with his Bonny Doon label, but wow, this 2013 Spanish Springs Vineyard San Luis Obispo Pinot is a gorgeous wine of seductive perfume and elegance, I honestly am blown away with this lovely stuff, this might be one of the best kept secrets in California! The floral attack here is amazing with layers of rose petal and violet notes are captivating and lead to a palate of silken fruits with black cherry, raspberry sand plum forming a decedent core around which light spice, mineral, sweet heirloom tomato, menthol and subtle wood (smoke) elements swirl in total harmony and the length is gracefully lingering. Opulent throughout, this 14.3% alcohol wine impresses for it’s sexy satiny form, but still vibrant and focused with clarity and detail that is very Chambolle-Musigny like in class and impression, though with California fruitiness, this wine is another great reason to visit Bonny Doon and or join their wine club, as this is usually only available that route, I myself grabbed it at the Davenport tasting room on a recent trek to Randall’s “Area 51” and thought it was too interesting to pass up. The 2013 Bonny Doon Pinot Noir Spanish Springs Vineyard picks up classic Pinot fruit and more structure with air and continues it’s stellar performance, this is dreamy stuff that looks to have at least another 5 to 7 years of stylistic pleasure in store, seriously well crafted juice.
($39 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2017

2009 Chateau Falfas, Côtes de Bourg, Red Bordeaux, France.
An organic and bargain priced Bordeaux with a classic blend of about 60% Merlot, 25-30% Cabernet Sauvignon as well as some Cabernet Franc and Malbec, the Chateau Falfas Cotes de Bourg shows a classic finesse and has traditional old world styling. Pure and gaining rich detail with air this 2009 Falfas is a thriller, especially for the price, showing a deep red/garnet hue in the glass with a dense core of blackberry, mulberry, cherry and dusty plum fruits with hints of graphite, dried spices, tobacco leaf, earthy/loam, cedar with a touch of creme de cassis. Nice warm ripe tannins, full mouth feel and length, this is a Bordeaux that is over delivering at this stage, and this vintage highlights this Chateau(s) quality and it’s drinking wonderfully well right now. I can’t wait to sample the current releases, I would imagine 2010, 2012 and 2014 would be extremely pleasing as well. If you are looking for a solid Bordeaux on a budget then Falfas should do the trick, and if you find this 2009, buy it!
($20-26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2017

2014 Laura Lorenzo Daterra Viticultores, Azos da Vila, Vino Tinto, VdT Val do Bibei, Ribeira Sacra, Spain.
Grown on the steep hillsides of Val do Bibei in the Ribeira Sacra, a Galician wine region near the river Sil, the Laura Lorenzo Daterra Viticultores Azos da Villa is an amazing red wine that is a true old vine field blend that has the earthy spiciness of the Northern Rhone and the length and class of Burgundy! Lorenzo, who has worked with Eben Sadie in South Africa and Achaval Ferrer in Argentina as well as with Domino do Bibei, is one of the world’s newest great winegrowers and a talents, she and her wines are soulful and reflect passion of place, if you’ve not had her wines, you need to and soon! Reviving old vines and varietals, Laura’s heart is in the Granite, Gneiss, Clay, Slate and Schiste soils of her native Manzaneda and this Azos da Vila is her blood, she farms all organically, all by hand using plots of 80-120 year old vines, which she de-stemmed in 2014 and co-fermented with native yeasts and in open top French oak, then aged in a mix of barrique and 500L casks, all well seasoned (used Barrels) from a unique field blend of Mouraton, Mencia, Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), Marenzao, Gran Negro and a few other unknown varietals. Lorenzo’s hard work and attention to detail in the vines paid off in 2014, her first vintage, in a year that was incredibly difficult with a humid and cold season that required patience and intense efforts to get the best out of the vineyards, which she did! The Azos da Vila 2014 is fresh and natural, it starts with flinty mineral, porcini (earthy) elements and tangy dark berries along with an inner floral expression before leading to a medium full palate that shows tart blueberry, cranberry, black plum, pretty currant jam and kirsch as well as dusty stones, basil, dried lavender, anise and liquid violets. The mouth feel is textural and vital with supple/ripe tannins and vivid acidity, the alcohol is refined and balanced at 13% and with Lorenzo’s extremely low SO2 use this red has the best character of what we admire in natural wines, in the same league as the wines from Arianna Occhipinti, Elisabetta Foradori and Mathieu Lapierre. This is an exceptional wine, it will be hard to find, but worth the search, imported by Jose Pastor Selections, I had to get my two bottles from Texas! Look for her 2015’s which are a little easier to locate and her just released 2016, which I hear are even better. If you wanted to compare Laura Lorenzo to a California producer, I’d say it would be good to look at either Bedrock Wine Co. (Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Heritage old vine field blend bottlings) or Arnot-Roberts’ Trousseau, her Daterra wines are not to be missed and highlight Galicia’s potential on the world’s stage.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2017

2016 Domaine Serol, Rose of Gamay, Cabochard, Cote Roannaise, Loire Valley, France.
Stephane Serol of Domaine Robert Serol is the fifth generation at this winery in the Cote Roannaise, a unique area of the upper most part of the Loire Valley in the Monts de Madeleine hills, which is sometimes called the lost Cru of Beaujolais, since it is closer to Morgon than Sancerre and is a great spot for Gamay. Grown on a vein of granite, these old vines are planted to a special clone of Gamay known as Gamay St. Romain that has it’s own personality and character, it’s slightly less fruity and it picks up wonderful mineral tone in the wines, Stephane is converting to all organic and ferments each parcel separately using whole cluster and cement vats that allows these cool fermentations to bring out vibrancy and pure intensity. Serol’s Cabochard is a beautiful dry Rose is at first austere and with shy leesy subtlety before coming alive on the palate with vivid strawberry, cherry and red peach fruits, citrusy crisp detail, steely notes, chalky wet stones and a light spicy/herby tang. It’s perfect pink/orange hue making for an attractive wine in the glass that lingers with faint whiffs of lavender oil, distilled plum and rose water, this is a wine that gathers intrigue with air and even gains depth/texture when it warms in the glass making it great at the table with sturdy cuisine, it’s impressively focused and one of my favorite Rose offerings, especially this 2016 vintage which is performing awesomely right now. Domaine Serol imported by Floraison Selections (Oakland, CA) also make a sparkling version too that is great for the holidays, but be sure to explore this winery’s red Gamay(s) and this pretty dry pink.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2017

2017 Poe Wines, Pinot Nouveau, Sans Soufre, California.
The Nouveau Pinot from Samantha Sheehan is made from Monterey County fruit, using a plot of vines planted to old Martini (Heritage) clone Pinot Noir, this hand harvested lot became a carbonic macerated beauty, whole cluster in sealed tank for seven weeks, it’s a new wine to celebrate harvest, with some proceeds going to fire relief efforts, because of the devastating blazes that engulfed parts of Napa and Sonoma. Sheehan was inspired to make world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay after touring and tasting in Champagne and Burgundy, she created her own label Poe Wines in 2009, and in short order she has made some absolutely amazing wines, while still under the radar, this winery’s Pinot Noirs especially are thrilling examples of glorious purity and class, my favorites include her Manchester Ridge and Sonoma Mountain’s Van der Kamp Vineyard, both right up there with some of the state’s best cool climate style wines like Littorai, Radio-Coteau, Drew and Hirsch! The 2017 Pinot Nouveau starts with carbonic juicy notes with bubble gum, cotton candy and sweet strawberry fruits along with candied cherry which then quickly contrasted by sappy thyme, Italian green herbs, spice, straw/hay, saline, wet earth and dried nori. Fresh and fruity with a hint of tartness and savory elements that allows this fun wine to be a competent companion to holiday cuisine, drink up!
($22 Est.) 86-88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2017

2016 Julien Sunier, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France.
Julien Sunier, born in Dijon and an ex-surfer, is now one of Beaujolais most prized winemakers focusing on old vines and biodynamic/organically farmed grapes mostly at higher elevation sites in Cru vineyards with his main wines being an over performing Regnie, a gorgeous Fleurie that isn’t far off Dutraive’s masterpiece, and this fantastically layered and brilliant Morgon. Sunier has parcels on sandy granite soils in “Py”, “Corcellette” and “Charmes” which are all old vine Gamay, he uses native ferments, whole cluster and basket press with long slow maceration and fermentations to achieve delicacy and textural hedonism. The beautiful and lively 2016 Julien Sunier Cru Morgon starts with a heady perfume and lengthy floral tones with violets, sappy herbs, cinnamon stick, mineral notes and a vibrant palate of blackberry, plum and mini garden strawberries as well as hints of walnut/pecan, anise, blood orange marmalade, dusty stones and kirschwasser. This medium bodied Gamay is thrilling, complex and wonderfully balanced highlighting it’s terroir and casting this varietal in it’s best light, Julien’s wines are as good and as elegant as anything you’d find in the region, he joins Foillard, Dutraive, Lapierre and others that make Cru Beaujolais that easily compete with the best of Burgundy. If you’ve not had Sunier’s wines now is the time to start, imported by Floraison Selections, these pretty garnet/ruby hued 2016’s are less fruity than the 2015’s, but absolutely stellar giving a heightened and sexy experience, they also should be fantastic cellar selections, drink now through 2024.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2017

2014 Damilano, Langhe Arneis, Piedmonte, Italy.
This bright and vibrant Arneis by Damilano, who are more known for their Barolo, is a delight in the glass with a golden/straw pale hue and lightly floral bouquet, it’s a light bodied white with good detail and easy to quaff. Perfect after golf and a leisurely Italian lunch with a variety of antipasti the 2014 Damilano picks up flavor and has a nice cut of acidity to be a perfect companion with a food, with refreshing citrus, green apple and anise on the lean palate, it’s got energy and mineral tones that make this white and classy and simple pleasure. The 2014 vintage, not a great year by any means in Piedmonte, still charms and while not a thriller, this Damilano Langhe Arneis gives a darn good performance and is more interesting than most Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios in it’s menu price class, but I think if you have this year, you’ll want to drink it sooner v. later, I think it’s at it’s best right now. This wine is a solid example of Arneis, a rare local varietal that can produce outstanding whites, usually in and around Barolo and Roero zones. Drink the 2014 Damilano Langhe Arneis now, and while this is a worthy vintage for this wine, I also suggest getting the slightly better vintages of 2015 (riper) and the new 2016 which is looking to be much more exciting year in the region.
($15-18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2017

2012 Vieux Chateau Saint Andre, Montagne Saint-Emillon, Red Bordeaux, France.
Made by ex Petrus winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet and son Jeff, who manages the family Berrouet estate in Montagne Saint-Emilion, this savvy pick is an all Merlot red Bordeaux that offers a lot of quality for the money. Delightfully fresh and deep in flavors, this outstanding buy, shows elegant cedary notes to go along with black cherry, mulberry and currant fruit with loamy/mineral tones that give this lush Merlot an earthy edge and sultry mouth feel, this wine is a class act from start to finish. Far from the normal modern over the top right bank it isn’t an over new oaked bore, while still clean and generous in style, this is a fine example of attention to detail from vines to bottle. The deep garnet hue and depth of flavor just gets better with air and time in the glass, this is why you should re-think that no Merlot bias, plus another reason to drink Bordeaux.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2017

2005 Chateau d’Armailhac, Pauillac, Grand Cru Classe, Red Bordeaux, France.
The Baron Philip de Rothschild Chateau d’Armailhac 2005 is drinking beautifully, I was certain it was a 2001 vintage in a blind tasting, such was it’s refined tannin and lively nature, this is not an overly ripe ’05 that I’ve come to expect, this wine showed pure Pauillac class and velvet wrapped power giving a world class performance against an eclectic group of Bordeaux wines. The Cabernet is purring here with deep currant, blackberry, mulberry and plum fruits on the palate along with traditional loamy/baked clay and earthy tones following an elegant start of floral notes and hints of cedar, delicate smoky wood and cassis in a long finished wine that is almost as good as it’s more well known brother Mouton, in fact I almost like the d’Armailhac better in it’s fresh detail and less obvious smoky oak. One of my worst wines ever was the 2000 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and while 1982 and 1986 were exceptional as one expects, I am not a Mouton fan, so this makes this d’Armailhac’s showing that much more impressive! (for me) With air this red Bordeaux really gets going and fills out, it is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and surprising as it seems from this vintage it says 13.3% alcohol! Depth comes into focus with time in the glass and touches of kirsch/cherry, blueberry, minty anise and mineral/graphite pop up in this medium full bodied Bordeaux, it’s tannic structure has really rounded and become silky, in fact this is sexy opulent stuff that makes an impact and it should go another decade and then some in the cellar, it is a thing of beauty and terroir purity with it’s lovely deep purply and garnet edged hue, funny it almost tastes more like it’s neighbor Pontet-Canet than Mouton! If you can find it at the wine-searcher price as of Nov. 2017, it is worth every penny, it’s the real deal. Thanks to Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards for sharing this wine us, I’m grateful for his kindness and because I may not have bought this bottle myself, though now I almost certainly will!
($70-90 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2017

2013 Domaine du Pegau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee Reserve, Rhone Red, France.
Laurence Feraud’s gorgeous traditionally crafted 2013 Reserve Chateauneuf is the real deal with wonderful layers of fruit, spice, earthiness and garrigue as well as a showy hedonistic personality that makes you really pay attention to every sip! This 2013 is getting good right now, well integrated with much less of an oaky feel and presence than in the past, it feels fantastic on the palate with beautiful detail and has impressive force and impact showing ripe boysenberry, plum jam, dusty raspberry, ground pepper, creme de cassis, dried lavender, hints of mission fig, crushed stones and saddle leather. This serious Chateauneuf may not be a hyped year, as the 2015 certainly will be, but damn this is thrilling stuff and looks to be a steal when comparing prices of top Chateauneuf-du-Pape offerings, it’s a lovely bottle that delivers everything you’d want from this region. The Pegau Reserve is a deep garnet/purple with a slight brick note on the edges and with air the nose develops floral, game and kirsch elements while the finish lingers with it’s weighty Grenache charms, plus a salted licorice and morello cherries, it’s mostly Grenache 80% as you can taste along with small amounts Syrah, Mourvedre and a mix of permitted varietals. Ms Feraud gets the most out of her old vine plots that are grown on the classic galets as well as sand, clay and chalky limestone, she used carefully sorted whole clusters with stems going for native and natural ferments in cement vats before aging the Cuvee Reserve 24 months in large cask, in well seasoned old neutral oak these days, with extra low sulfur and as little as possible acid added depending on vintage balance. Usually a sexy wine, this 2013 does not disappoint, enjoy this Chateauneuf over the next 5 to 10 years, best to decant and have with robust and rustically simple cuisine for the best experience, also check out Pegau’s Cote du Rhone and Vin de France reds, they are wildly enjoyable too.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive