Monthly Archives: September 2019

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 21, 2019

2017 Domaine Jérôme Gradassi, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Southern Rhone, France -photo grapelive

2017 Domaine Jérôme Gradassi, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Southern Rhone, France.
One of my favorite small producers in the Rhone, Jérôme Gradassi, the ex chef of a Michelin starred restaurant, the “L’Isle Sonnant” in Avignon, which after burning out, he sold in 2003 to take over a tiny Chateauneuf parcel of vines that left to him by his grandfather. After making a few vintages in his late grandfather’s tiny house and basement cellar, a place so small the grapes were shoveled through a window and the juice had to be brought up in hand pulled buckets to barrel, a process that sometimes took a few days to manage, Gradassi is now in his brother’s ex winery Domaine du Remparts, re-named Domaine Jérôme Gradassi. His micro production Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge is roughly about 75-80% Old Vine Grenache Noir and 20-25% Mourvèdre, fermented in cement vats and stainless and then aged in older barriques, using native yeasts and lots of whole cluster, making for a spicy/earthy rustic wine with a nod to old school traditions, which I adore in Chateauneuf. Farmed with holistic practices on classic limestone, riverbed and clay soils, the Gradassi Chateauneuf vines are planted with about 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre. His property, according to Domaine, is divided into 6 parcels located in the lieut-dits of Palastor, Bois Dauphin, and Cabriere, all in the cooler north of the AOC, shows a vivid lively form and balance, less dense and less hedonistic than the more modern styles.

Maybe the smallest producer in the appellation, Jérôme’s Chateauneuf ages just over 10 months and is one of freshest you’ll find with a dry savory edginess and with stem fleshiness and tension, it’s a wine I’ve been a fan of since it was first available in the States, along with his Blanc, uniquely made from Clairette Rose, a Gris like varietal, super rare, closely related to more common Clairette Blanche. The 2017 Rouge is youthfully tannic and tart with juicy/grapey Grenache fruit leading the way on the medium/full bodied palate showing dusty bramble berry, pomegranate, plum and strawberry fruits along with bitter herb, dried violets, lavender oil, anise and a touch of kirsch and creme de cassis, adding a touch of leather, truffle, peppercorns and lingering boysenberry coulis. This is one of Jérôme’s most pure versions to date and it should age gloriously, in fact it deserves about 3 to 5 years of cellaring, even though I love it’s vibrant thrill ride of flavors and impressive gripping details, and it enjoys robust food choices to show its best side, that allows it to really fill out and linger on the finish. Drink this lovely dark garnet and magenta hued Chateauneuf Rouge over the next 10 years.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 20, 2019 – Happy #GrenacheDay

2017 Daniel Gomez Jimenez-Landi Viticultor, Garnacha, Las Uvas de la Ira, Vino del Pueblo, El Real de San Vincente, Sierra de Gredos Valle del Tietar, Mentrida D.O., Spain -photo grapelive

2017 Daniel Gomez Jimenez-Landi Viticultor, Garnacha, Las Uvas de la Ira, Vino del Pueblo, El Real de San Vincente, Sierra de Gredos Valle del Tietar, Mentrida D.O., Spain.
Dani Landi is one of the most influential winemakers in his region in the high plains and mountains above Spain’s capital, Madrid, in the Sierra de Gredos, one of the hot spots for Garnacha and his wines are highly sought after for the complexity and delicacy they show, like this gorgeous example, the Las Uvas de la Ira. The Gredos is an exciting zone with Landi being one of the ringleaders as well as being part of a winemaking gang known as Comando G with Fernando Garcia, but other top producers here include Alfredo Maestro and 4 Monos, all are well worth searching out, making wines that are old vine authentic, in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape mode, though with a more lighter touch on the alcohol in most cases, though that said this Landi is no light weight at 14.5% and comes across like silky (baby) Chateau Rayas meets Chambolle-Musigny! Dani Landi is a native to the region and was born and raised in Méntrida, where his family has been grape growers here for generations and like almost everyone else sold their grapes to the local cooperative, who Landi still helps out with. Knowing he wanted to express his own vines and personality he started a small winery back in 2012 to do just that and became one of the stars of this unique and ancient wine area that had almost been forgotten. The rise in Gredos seemed to mirror Landi’s releases and his Garnacha Las Uvas de la Ira from the village of El Real de San Vicente being one of his best offerings showing wonderful depth of flavors and a studied finesse that is highlighted in the beautiful pale ruby/garnet hue in the glass and rich detail on the palate.

Landi’s Las Uvas de la Ira Garnacha, from the Méntrida D.O. is fermented using whole cluster with indigenous yeasts in open top French oak casks, and treated like Pinot with gentle hands, then the wine is aged in a combination of foudre, larger, mostly neutral French oak barrels for 12 months, interestingly Landi also is experimenting with terra-cotta with some of his other bottlings seeing a portion that is raised in clay amphorae. The high elevation and cold night make for a long growing season and wonderful development in the grapes, which are about 60 years old set on granitic sands, quartz and freely draining weathered soils, which Landi transmits into the wine with near perfection. A Beautiful energy comes through in the wines, and I would like to think it is because of the purity of terroir and that all the grapes are grown to biodynamic practices, as well as the pop of traditional stem inclusion. The Las Uvas de la Ira Garnacha is highly aromatic with floral tones, mountain herbs, dusty red fruit and an array of spices, this nose leads to a medium body that fills out with macerated cherries, plum, strawberry, pomegranate and red currant fruits along with accents of minty/amaro, licorice, a mineral element, rose/lavender oil, cinnamon and with a light leathery earthiness. The finish echos on and on here with fine grained tannin and a bright cut of acidity pushing the fruit up, giving structure and life here, impressive for Landi’s village bottling. This is stellar wine to celebrate #GrenacheDay or any day! This latest release, imported by European Cellars, is deserving of your attention, especially if you are a Grenachista (Grenache Lover), do not miss it!
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 19, 2019

2017 Domaine Thomas Pico – Bois d’Yver, Chablis, White Burgundy, France -photo grapelive

2017 Domaine Thomas Pico – Bois d’Yver, Chablis, White Burgundy, France.
This all organic domaine was hit incredibly hard by hail in both 2016 and 2017 making this Bois d’Yver Chablis by Thomas Pico even more amazing, since he was forced to blend what little fruit he could salvage into just two bottling, his Pattes Loup, and a tiny bottling under this Bois d’Yver label, which was bottled solely for his US importer, Floraison Selections. This was my first experience with Pico’s wines, though he has quite a following, and I was highly impressed, this crisply cool Chablis is classic in terroir character with a flinty/steely charm. It also has a surprisingly beautiful textural quality that leaves a rich impression on the long finish, all the while it is driven by its riveting zippy acidity. I found interesting similarities to Puize, Savary, De Moor and Beru in this Bois d’Yver, which to me, is very exciting and I loved the layered medium bodied palate that shows green apple, lemony citrus, a hint of peach and Bosc pear fruits along with a salty freshness, wet rock and clove spices. The nose is really chalky/stony with a hint of lime, sea breezes and white flowers adding to the thrill and pleasure in this lovely Chardonnay. Pico came back to Chablis in 2004 after years of making wine in Nuits-Saint-Georges to farm his late grandfather’s parcel and started his organic conversion, he is also distinctive in the long élevage he gives his wines, with this Chablis getting 18 months, while his Premier Crus get a 34 months minimum before bottling!

Made from a distinct parcel of vines, the Bois d’Yver Chablis is all estate grown fruit coming from a block between Côte Joannis & Beauregards​ set on the limestone, marl and clay soils with ripe exposures. Thomas Pico, according to his importer, is famed in the Chablis region for his cult bottlings under his Pattes Loup label, but I am happy to report this bottling is really stylish as well, and of Premier Cru class, it is also a great value. The Bois d’Yver Chablis, from Pico’s father’s historic 2.5 ha estate, which he’s quietly been reviving and converting to organic since 2015 is a label to search out. Thomas Pico is one of a handful of committed producers working organically in Chablis, a region not usually known for sustainable production, though in recent years you’ve seen a bigger push in this direction. Thomas, again according to Floraison, runs Bois d’Yver as a separate estate in parallel to his Pattes Loup and follows the same principles, with holistic organic farming, no synthetic herbicide, pesticides or chemical additions, 100% native yeast fermentations, and extended lees aging, that Pico says, brings out the inherent complexity and depth in the wine but he strives to preserve freshness and energy of the fruit. Though Bois d’Yver consists of one single AOC Village bottling, Thomas feels the parcels are distinctive enough to merit standing on their own, and I absolutely agree, this is a brilliant under the radar Chablis, and one that shined with a vast of array of sushi adding great enjoyment to evening.
($34 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 18, 2019

2016 Salvo Foti I Vigneri, Vigna di Milo “Caselle” Etna Bianco, Sicily, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 Salvo Foti I Vigneri, Vigna di Milo “Caselle” Etna Bianco, Sicily, Italy.
The wonderfully seductive and delicate Caselle Vigna di Milo by the famed Salvo Foti is a single varietal white wine made from native Carricante, on the eastern slope of Etna, near the town of Milo a picturesque village that is within sight on the Ocean. This is crisply dry and steely fresh wine that shows volcanic influences with white peach, racy citrus and quince fruits with saline mouth watering zest, spicy mineral and stony notes. According to Foti, many generations of Sicilians have known that maybe Mount Etna’s greatest white wine grape, Carricante, reaches its top form here in this location higher on the cooler eastern slopes of the volcano. This quality has lead to the designation of Carricante wines from the Caselle district, surrounding the town of Milo, as the exclusive source of Etna Bianco Superiore. Medium bodied and gaining richness with air the Vigna di Milo Bianco is graceful, stylish and well crafted, it thrills the palate and goes beautifully with matching cuisine. Foti’s white is a class act and shouldn’t be overlooked, even though most people search out his Nerello Mascalese, Etna Rosso(s).

Salvo Foti, the godfather of Sicilian wines, especially Etna versions, is a native of the near by city of Catania, he studied enology and began his career in 1981 as a technical and agrarian advisor to some noted estates in eastern Sicily, and specializes in native grape growing and holistic farming. He continues that work today for estates such as Gulfi, Benanti and Vini Biondi, all of whose wines are universally recognized as among the best in Sicily, as well as malking his own whines. A number of years ago, Salvo’s love of the grapes and soils of Etna, in particular, led him to initiate a project called I Vigneri. This grower/producer group takes its name from an association that existed in the Etna region in 1435, Maestranzi dei Vigneri, a society of vineyard workers that greatly influenced the wine culture of the Etna region. Today, I Vigneri oversees many of vines of Etna and is well regarded for natural practices, traditional methods and attention to detail, as this gorgeous wine shows, which reveals the passion and hard work they put into the vineyard and cellar. With hints of ginger and tropical fruits, this lightly perfumed Vigna di Milo Carricante evolves nicely in the glass and should continue to impress for another 3 to 5 years, it is as good as many White Burgundies that cost a lot more!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 17, 2019

2015 Big Basin Vineyards, Syrah, Rattlesnake Rock, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2015 Big Basin Vineyards, Syrah, Rattlesnake Rock, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This inky and powerful 2015 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, by Bradley Brown’s Big Basin Vineyards, made from a harvest with ultra tiny yields is an incredible wine of deep concentration and northern Rhone style purity of form and with an everlasting aftertaste, it’s a blockbuster and should age for decades to come. The estate grown Big Basin Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is a field blend of Brown’s oldest vines on south facing slopes at about 1,400 feet above sea level set in mineral laced soils with shale, iron and sandstone at the core with lose clay and loam topsoil, it’s cool site with ocean influences, windy and a severe drop in temps at night, planted mostly to Alban clone or Cote-Rotie clone. This intense, aromatic and spicy Syrah was fermented using organic grapes using indigenous yeasts with partial whole cluster with a dose of Viognier co-fermented in, with gentle hand punchdowns and a long cold soak, as Brown suggests, to extract the full expression of the vineyard, then it was aged about two years in French oak. The Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is unique regional wine, again highlighting the sometimes underrated Santa Cruz Mountains, it is a fantastic wine that joins Rhys, Ridge, Mount Eden and others that make this place so special.

Big Basin’s latest set of wines are all just lovely with exceptional character and quality throughout the range, I especially was impressed with the whole Pinots and the Burgundy like Coastview Chardonnay, they clearly represent some of the best features of the Central Coast. That said, without question Big Basin’s most iconic wine is their Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, which is one of the greatest versions of the grape in California, sitting along side the likes of Alban, Ojai, Peay, Pax, Halcon and Drew to name a few. I least reviewed the 2012 vintage of Rattlesnake, and I had thought it couldn’t get much better than that, but I can admit I was wrong, as this 2015, which is just starting to reveal its true potential with dark layers of blackberry, briar laced olallieberry, damson plum, kirsch, creme de cassis, peppercorns, smoky camphor and liquid violets, as well as minty herb, dusty earth, mineral and licorice. All these flavors are packed into a tannic and full bodied wine that fleshes out with air, which it certainly needs, very much like a young Hermitage! Best to give this one another 3 to 5 years if you have are lucky to have some, with that patience, this brilliant wine will be even greater rewards, and I recommend keeping an eye out for this one and suggest getting on Big Basin’s mailing list.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 16, 2019

2018 Weingut Von Winning, Riesling Trocken, Deidesheimer Leinhohle, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Von Winning, Riesling Trocken, Deidesheimer Leinhohle, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany.
One of the best kept secret’s in von Winning’s portfolio is their Premier Cru Leinhohle Trocken, it’s a suave and stylish dry Riesling that really is on par with the Grosses Gewächs and shows this gorgeous vintage to near perfection with incredible perfume and complexity, it’s awesome stuff. While sure, it doesn’t have the hedonistic density of Kalkofen GG or thrilling stoniness of the Pechstein GG, but it’s damn close and it’s weightless texture almost makes it more compelling, I would say in this year it reminds of how in some years I in fact love Montée de Tonnerre, a Premier Cru Chablis, better than the Blanchot Grand Cru, like the 2010 Raveneau’s by of comparison, and since Burgundy was von Winning’s winemaker’s biggest inspiration, that hopefully makes relatable sense. In fact Stephan Attmann’s wines can rival the upper echelon of Meusault and even Montrachet, especially his Langenmorgen, Ungeheuer and in particular the Kirchenstuck, the Le Montrachet of the Pfalz, all Grand Cru sites that von Winning has in the Pfalz. The Leinhole Erste Lage is set on löss, loam and red sandstone soils with vines, again influenced by Burgundian practices, with von Winning and Attmann having adopted the single cane trellising system, prevalent in the Cote d’Or, and Grosses Gewächs and this one getting fermentted in 500mL French barrels, with indigenous yeasts and aged in a combination of different sized barrels. This 2018 Leinholhe Erste Lage Trocken is shiny and sunny in the glass with a pale golden/greenish hue and serious nose of white violets, brioche and mango flesh before leading to a complex medium bodied palate of mixed citrus, including lime, tangerine and grapefruit along with tangy apricot, papaya, green apple and pineapple along with salted chalk rock, leesy toast, crystalized ginger, clove spice and crunchy mineral notes.

Von Winning like Leflaive and others farms their grapes using organic/biodynamic and sustainable viticulture with high density planting to ensure the best quality and be responsible stewards of their holdings, it is all the attention to detail and passion here that makes these wines really stand apart from the pack and make them unique. Weingut von Wiinning is one of the best wine estates in Germany and all of Europe, with a focus on dry Riesling, obviously, but they also due lovely Pinot Noir, Sparkling and what might be one of the greatest Sauvignon Blanc wines in the world, and every time I taste with Andreas Hütwohll, their world wide sales director and winemaker, I am left speechless by the quality in these wines. That leads me back to the 2018 Leinholhe Trocken, which I tasted in barrel sample, just before its bottling, it gives me full confidence that this vintage is going to another stunner for the Pfalz. The brilliance of this wine is the inner energy and textural feel, while still being racy with natural acidity it has remarkable depth and every sip reveal new layers, it is a wine that proves Riesling gives the same thrill as a tannic red wine with a velvet edged power, it is absolutely impossible not to be left in awe of what is capable here. This upcoming release is most likely going to get overlooked by those seeking the GG’s and missed by the value hunters, so it just might fly under the radar, but I would still chased it down with excited vigor, because it might be one of the best wines of vintage under $50, I am going to put my own money where my mouth is I can assure you that! Honestly it is wines like this that gives me a child’s like enthusiasm and puts a huge smile on my face, it drinks great now and will for stupid long time to come, it will involve nicely for 15 plus years no question, this 2018 Leinholhe is an exceptional Riesling.
($43 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 15, 2019

2016 Chateau Beychevelle, Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France -photo grapelive

2016 Chateau Beychevelle, Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France.
All those rumors you heard about the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux, quiet comparisons to the legendary years, you know what I mean, well, yeah, they are pretty much true, this is a vintage to buy and stock up on. I recently tried this Beychelle, and while not cheap (if not purchased on futures), it is a stunning wine, maybe one of the best young versions I’ve had experience with from this historic property in the Medoc, even better is, like 1990 and somewhat like 2005 and 2009 for sure, it can actually be enjoyed rather young, while still incredibly age worthy, that said, patience will be rewarded. Chateau Beychelle, a fourth grown from the classification of 1855, has traditionally been a solid performer with a legacy of value on offer, though rarely has it reached quality exceeding its expectations, but I must say in recent vintages I’ve been very impressed and like their neighbor Léoville-Poyferré, a Super Second (Growth) are producing some thrilling stuff, especially this 2016 Grand Vin, the top wine from the estate. The 2016 is richly packed with fruit and is extremely deep in color, very purple/back and garnet in the glass and the nose is full of violets, cassis, graphite and sweet toast, which all leads to a palate that echos those first sensations and adds blackberry, plum, black cherry and mulberry fruits, a touch of loaminess, cedar and anise as well as touch of pipe tobacco and vanilla. This is full throttle, full bodied Bordeaux with a veil of opulence that hides the powerful structural tannins well still, and excitingly there is a nice burst of juicy acidity keeping things from getting over the top, everything looks set for a gorgeous long lived wine.

Chateau Beychelle, like many Medoc estates are grateful for the Dutch engineers that literary drained the swamp and created one of the best terroirs in France and the story of it’s label is very interesting. At the beginning of the 17th century, according to the Chateau and local historians, The first Duke of Épernon owned the property, a renown sailor and naval commander, who became great French admiral and such was his reputation that as boats passed in front of his estate, they would lower their sails to show their allegiance and respect. This honor in the end gave rise to the Château’s emblem, the ship with a griffon-shaped prow, its name in Gascon dialect, Bêcha vêla, meaning “baisse voile” (“lower the sails”), which later became Beychevelle. For the 2016 vintage, the final blend of the Grand Vin was Cabernet Sauvignon 47%, Merlot 47%, Cabernet Franc 1% and Petit Verdot 5%, which accounts for the mix of power and lush mouthfeel, and it was raised in 50% new wood. This vintage was the first using new technical facilities at Beychelle, with the best in equipment and a much better working layout to, as the winery suggests, enable a gentle transfer of the grapes by gravity, very precise temperature controlled stainless fermentors, and extractions adjusted to the characteristics of each vat, along with better vineyard practices and a focus on the best individual parcels. The investment here is paying off and this wine is fantastic, it shows off the heart of Beychelle’s vineyards, which are located on two plateaus set on deep Garonne gravels, which the Cabernet loves, over loam and clay that over looks the Gironde River. When you think of all the wines now that go for over $175, especially from Napa, this wine, even at full release price looks pretty reasonable and I bet it will go 25 to 30 years.
($150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 14, 2019

2018 Arianna Ochipinti, SP68 Bianco, Terre Siciiane IGT, Sicily, Italy -photo grapelive

2018 Arianna Ochipinti, SP68 Bianco, Terre Siciiane IGT, Sicily, Italy.
The exotic and refreshing Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is an intriguing perfumed, but crisply dry and salty white made from the local Zibibbo grape, which is also known as Moscato di Alessandria, plus the little known local Albanello varietal, it just might be the best version of this wine to date from the ever amazing and talented Arianna. While somewhat rustic in an authentic style, classic for Occhipinti, this SP68 Bianco reminds me of some of the best examples of Muscat, even if it is only about 60%, including my personal favorites from Mueller-Catoir, who’s Trocken Pfalz Muskateller is outrageously good and Wenbach’s Muscat d’Alsace version, which to me of course is high praise! The taste of the sea comes through in dramatic fashion here and it is brisk with acidity making it vibrant and a thrill with matching briny sea foods and especially shellfish in spicy broth and or Moroccan lemon chicken and couscous. Zesty layers of citrus and stones fruits are led by the jasmine and spearmint bouquet and spicy details along with a touch of tropical essences, wet stone and a touch of rosewater bath salts. The persistent lemon/lime and white peach are lifted here with the dramatic aromatics, sea spray, earth and mineral tones and a pop crystalized ginger in a saliva inducing light bodied wine. The SP68 series (White and Red) are named after the local and historic trade road, which has been around for centuries and has a meaning of tradition and history to Arrianna, making these wines very special to her, she thinks she is honoring the ghosts of her ancestors, who used to trade wine in Amphora and carried to market by mules.

Occhipinti, who is one of the leading lights of the natural wine world and mostly known for her amazing work with the Frappato grape, native to her region in Vittoria, Sicily on the southeastern side of the Island, outside of the volcano zone near Ragusa. Her reds have taken the the world by storm and have brought a whole legion of fans to this part of Sicily, especially the signature Il Frappato, but also her Nero d’Avola and blends, including the sister wine to this one, the SP68 Rosso. Arianna Occhipinti had a meteoric start as a young winemaker who at only 21 released her first vintage, that was the 2004 and has only got better with age. She has rockstar image in the wine world, kind of funny for such a down to earth soul and a woman of the earth, still she has became a mystical, if not seminal figure in the biodynamic/organic and natural wine movement. Arianna tends to 14 hectares of olive groves and 5 hectares of vineyards, which she works with a holistic sensibility and pride of place. For the SP68 Bianco, Occhipinti uses a native yeast fermentation after a 15 day maceration on the skins, with all the aging done solely in cement vats, which lasts 6 months to preserve freshness and allow it to gain texture, and it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. This blend, 60% Moscato di Alessandria and 40% Albanello comes from vines about 15 years old and set on her red sand and chalky limestone soils which are set at about 800 or so feet above sea level and that get a cool breeze. Drink now and often.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 13, 2019

2018 Domaine Rimbert, Cinsault “Cousin Oscar” Vin de France, Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Rimbert, Cinsault “Cousin Oscar” Vin de France, Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France.
The all natural 100% Cinsault Cousin Oscar from Domaine Rimbert is a tangy fresh red wine that is bursting with vibrancy and classic Cinsault character, and while his Carignan based Saint-Chinian wines are his serious offerings, I love this playful Glou Glou style wine with it’s low alcohol and tangy freshness. This new release of Cousin Oscar is vibrant with a light ruby hue in the glass and with a strawberry led profile that includes tree picked plum, sour cherry, rosewater, cinnamon/pepper spiciness and intense licorice notes. This vat raised Cinsault loves being served with a slight chill and with lighter cuisine, it perks up nicely with food lighting it to a weight similar to Pinot Noir and gains earthy tones and hints of lavender. This wine has a Natty following and features on some Nature Wine Bar lists, it succeeds in being an honest and delightful lighter style red.

Jean-Marie Rimbert, the self proclaimed defender of the Languedoc’s native Carignan grape, is a benchmark grower for the region and also a maverick, being one of the leading lights in the Saint-Chinian AOC. His Cousin Oscar is named for a family member that had a serious reputation with the women in the region, such was his looks and charm he was known, I hear, to have women fighting over his attention, and the label alludes to this and his playful character. Rimbert’s Carignan based reds are, as mentioned above, the more serious stuff and remind me a little of Maxime Magnon’s intriguing Coberieres wines, as well as some fresher (style) Gigondas producers, with its added doses of Grenache and Syrah adding lovely complexity. This Cousin Oscar is wonderful fun and well made, it should satisfy the Natty and non Natty crowd in equal measure. Also if you are Cinsault curious, it also grows great in South Africa, see Baadenhorst, along with some fun stuff coming from California, look for some from Turley, Sandlands, Andrew Murray (Rose) and Randall Grahm is using it freely in his new Cigare Volant at Bonny Doon!
($17 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 12, 2019

2018 Domaine Testut, Chablis “Cote de Brechain” White Burgundy, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Testut, Chablis “Cote de Brechain” White Burgundy, France.
A newcomer to me, on the Chablis scene, Domaine Testut looks set for stardom with an impressive Lieu-Dit bottling from Cote de Brechain, tiny plot set of mostly alcareous clay along with some classic limestone from the Kimmeridgien era, making for a mineral and stone driven Chardonnay that certainly on the level of Premier Cru stars in the region and maybe a Grand Cru of two! Cyril Testut has presided over the family estate since 1998, so he’s been doing it while now, the domaine, which was established by his father Philippe Testut in 1967, Testuts have 13 hectares of vineyards (previsouly owned by Cistercian agronomist monks) located in the historic heart of Chablis. It’s a teddy selection of Grand Cru and Premier vines, mostly of which sit between the Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre and the Grand Cru Blanchots, not too shabby that. Those that like the domaines of Patrick Puize, Savary and Christophe will instantly recognize the style and quality in these Testut wine, and even those that are lucky enough to enjoy the greats, like Raveneau and Dauvissat will no doubt be thrilled by these wines. I was completely seduced by this Testut Cote de Brechain, just by it’s nose alone. This is cystalline Chablis that was fermented and aged between 9 and 12 months in tank without any wood, absolutely exceptional and a wine I plan on stocking up on.

Cyril Testut focuses on capturing terroir, especially the steely/flinty mineral essences and that shows through clearly in this stunning effort, this wine is a must try for Chablis enthusiasts, in particular, like me, that are searching out a great value. This 2018 Cote de Brechain is racy and vividly clear with a fantastic bouquet of lime blossom, wet river stones and orchard fruits that leads to a light/medium bodied palate of tangy green apple, lemon/lime and with chalky detailing with a real sense of purity of form and good natural acidity that lifts the flavors, but feels smooth in the mouth, adding a touch of hazelnut and a hint of clove spice. The Lieu-Dit Cote de Brechain, with 40 year old vines, is on the left bank on Serine river and faces east allowing a long hang time and ripe flavors, but with zesty acidity keeping things remarkably fresh, as this pretty wine shows. Brisk and refreshing the crisp Cote de Brechain opens up with a bit of air and gains textural elements, filling out all corners, while staying true and vibrant throughout. This wine can be easily enjoyed as a Summer sipper, though has structure and finesse to be a serious wine with a meal, search this stuff out!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive