Grapelive Report

A Quick Look at Nicolas Joly Wines
By Kerry Winslow

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220px-coulee_de_serrant_and_clos_de_la_bergerie.jpgOne of the modern pioneers of Biodynamic farming and a natural winemaker, Nicolas Joly, who once was an investment banker in New York and later in London, makes some of the most interesting white wines in the world. He took over his family’s wine estate Château de la Roche aux Moines, located in Savennières back in 1977 and has done for Chenin Blanc and Savennières what Didier Dageuneau did for Sauvignon Blanc and Pouilly-fume. Joly’s Savennières are deep and edgy wines that take time to understand and grow on you, but once you see the light you’ll search them out and marvel at their unique character and funkiness. In the States we see Joly wines rarely and only three cuvees are available anyway, though I have heard that in some vintages there might also be a sweet wine added to the line up.

The top wine is the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, considered the holy grail of Chenin Blanc, sort of the Montrachet if you will, a wine of intensity, vibrant color, chalky and with eye popping mineral notes, though a core of peach, baked spicy apple and lemon fruit stays with you.

The next wine in Joly’s line is called Clos de la Bergerie, and it is always to me the most different and intriguing of his wines with a slight sherry like note, mature golden color most often and tangy with a touch of dried fruits. This wine has made me a fan for life; even if it is weird and wild at times I always enjoy the nature of it.
To complete the three wines I’ve tried by Joly, there is the Les Clos Sacrés (or the Les Vieux Clos, as it is labeled in Europe) which is the lightest and most freshly clean in style, it is steely and bright with acid, but still gives great flavor and is very savory.

It seems Nicolas is turning over most of the duties of the Estate to his daughter now Virginie Joly, and after tasting the current releases, I am happy to say the wines are as good as ever and I think the place is in good hands! And if you ever get a chance, get some of these beautiful wines and enjoy them on very special occasions or with your most trusted wine geeky friends, Viva La Chenin Blanc!

Check my notes and reviews of Nicolas Joly

Grapelive Reviews

Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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joly07.gif2007 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Bergerie Savennières, French White (Chenin Blanc)
Biodynamic farming and natural winemaking are this wines hallmarks and strengths, though it is a slightly wild and funky wine that takes time to get to know and love, and I do love it. The color is mature, very golden and the wine shows oxidation with hints of sherry, straw and verbena, but it is still intriguing and deep with character and charms. The nose has chalk, apple and a hint of citrus flower, before a crisp palate of yellow peach, apple and lemon with a touch of herb, butterscotch and dusty minerals. There is a rocky and earthy undertone that gives added complexity, while the nice acidity keeps everything in order and brightens the wine up. This wine is pure terroir and a very different expression of the Loire and the Chenin Blanc grape, and a wine very much worth finding for a special occasion. (*$$$) 94 Points, grapelive

*I saw it available last at around $65 a bottle…

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Grapelive Latest: Weekend Pick

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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snos08pm.gif2008 Snosrap Pinot Noir Monterey County (by Parsonage Winery).
This pretty and focused Pinot Noir is a wonderful secret, made by Parsonage Winery in Carmel Valley from grapes Bill Parsons has found from cool sites with ex-Morgan winemaker David Coventry consulting. Sold mainly through the tasting room only a tiny amount comes on the market each year and sells out fast. The 2008 vintage is a beauty with lovely floral notes, dried flowers and tea spices, with plenty of cream fruit on the lush palate. The core of red cherry and plum really comes alive in the mouth and the texture is silky. There is hints of crème de cassis, mocha and vanilla that give a long full finish and stay with you a good long time, but the wine is fresh still and vibrant with nice balance, making it great with food as well as just being enjoyable to sip on its own. * I tasted this wine prior to bottling twice, and it is getting richer each time and is much better now in bottle.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

www.parsonagewine.com

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Grapelive Latest: March 2

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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v29cru07.gif2007 Vineyard 29 “Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
Cru, made from purchased grapes and crafted by Vineyard 29 and their winemaker Philippe Melka, who also makes Bryant Family, is a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon that must surely rank up there with the best of top line Napa Cabs under $75, in fact it may just be up there with the best $100 wines. This vintage, the 2007, is a stunning wine with total class and pure Cabernet Sauvignon character and flavors, without question it gives lots of pleasure and depth, while being rich and forceful on the palate. The nose is smoky sweet with nice oak, flowers, fruit and it has a very dark hue all of which make you want to dive right in. The palate has blackberry, cedar, plum, currant, pencil lead and hints of tobacco leaf all wrapped up in smooth, ripe and dusty tannins that never seem aggressive or out of place in this focused and vibrant Cabernet. The finish is very long and mouth coating with cassis, mocha and vanilla lingering, though not taking away from the essence of the natural fruit. You can cellar for 5 years easy, not that you would need to at all, but I still want to hold a few away for a another year or so to see what happens.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: March 1

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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snos07bord.gif2007 Snosrap Cyrano Red “Bordelais” Monterey.
I tasted this wine in barrel and just before bottling, and now in bottle, and it is getting better each time I try it. I had rated it at 90 Points in my early notes, but it has got more interesting and polished, so I had to bump it up a few points, and that is much more fair at this stage and it might even get better still. This wine is a new cuvee for Parsonage and their Snosrap Cyrano line up and it is a blend of about 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot and 25% Malbec, all of which come from select vineyard sites. The nose is rich in flowers, fruit and mocha scented oak and the palate is big, lush and full with layers of blackberry, cassis, cherry, currant and plum. There is lots of sweet chocolate, vanilla spice and sturdy ripe tannins that add depth and structure that also linger on the finish. This is a very enjoyable Bordeaux style blend that is pure new world in character with clean flavors and thick texture, though remains balanced and lively.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

www.parsonagewine.com

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Grapelive Latest: Feb 27 & 28

Grapelive Daily Pick: Value Selection

By Kerry Winslow

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delas07v.gif2007 Delas Cotes-du-Ventoux, Rhone Red, France.
Year after year this little Cotes-du-Rhone from the Mount Ventoux area of the Luberon is always a great go to value wine, and one I tend to use for everyday use. Then comes a vintage like 2007, where a good table wine suddenly tastes bigger and more grand, making this Cotes-du-Ventoux stand out and even reminds one of a fine Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas! Delas puts out clean, pure and classy wines from all over the Rhone, both North and South, with this little wine being one that gets lost in their portfolio, but one searching out for style and flavor far above its modest price. This vintage of the Cotes-du-Ventoux is Grenache dominated with a touch of Syrah and it shows true Rhone character with bold grapey fruit, spice and earthy layers. With a beautiful purple/red color, this pretty Cotes-du-Ventoux hints at the pleasure to come. The nose is fresh and floral with violets and wildflowers, before vibrant red and black fruits come through, the palate is rich and lively with blackberry, grenadine, currant, plum and cherry liqueur filling the mouth with a background of subtle pepper, rocky earth, lavender, fennel and crème de cassis. This red is full and lush, but still has balance and zestiness, it is not over done or raisiny at all, making for a remarkable red that is a more than a steal at the price, in fact, I would buy it at twice the price and be very happy!
($12 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

www.ranchocellars.com

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Grapelive Latest: Feb 26

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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snos08chard.gif2008 Snosrap Chardonnay Cyrano Series (by Parsonage Village Vineyard) Monterey.
Parsonage continues to grow in size and style, adding some new value wines to their line-up, while the quality in their estate wine soars and gets more terroir driven with each year. The Snosrap series, made from select purchased grapes from selected vineyards in the Monterey region, focuses on value and made for everyday enjoyment, as well as for bistro by-the-glass programs. The Parsonage tasting room sells most of these wines and they fly off the shelves at wine stores in the Monterey area, as few wines can match the quality for the price that these wines offer. This vintage of the Snosrap Chardonnay is ripe and round with good touches of French oak, while still giving some Burgundian flavors of hazelnuts, mineral and some lemon zest. The palate has pear, apple, peach and a flash of pineapple with soft acidity and warm creamy vanilla spice. Drink now, or expect this wine to gain weight and buttery flavors over the next few years and drink well for another 5 to 7.
($20 Est.) 91-92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Feb 25

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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buelwitz.gif2007 Erben von Beulwitz Kaseler Nies’chen Kabinett (Ruwer)
This dry Riesling has hints of fresh sweetness and good richness, but is clean and focused with bright peach and apricot to go with some nice tangy green apple fruit on the palate. There is some interesting slate, stones and mineral notes well hidden now in the background, as well as flashes of tropical exotic fruits. The Erben von Beulwitz estate is a class act and I must say I’m very impressed with their wines, and this one is a fine example of this grape and region as it drinks great and finishes with crisp acidity and citrus flower notes while leaving a lingering touch of sweetness that is in perfect balance with the wine and makes for lots of fun food pairings or great on its own.
($23-25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

www.deevinewines.com

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Grapelive Latest: Feb 24

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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stolpman07.gif2007 Stolpman Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley.
This is a big brooding monster at the moment and I hope it will settle into a complex and balanced wine, given some more time in bottle. Stolpman has been turning out fine Syrah for many years and the 2005 Stolpman Hilltops was one of my favorite Syrahs of the vintage, and the 2007 could be that good, but it is just too much a savage wine at the moment, even though it has everything in spades to be great. It has fruit, spice, chocolate, earth, game and tannic power with a palate of blueberry compote, blackberry, cassis, mocha, wild meat, smoke, liqueur and peppery notes. The wine is thick and richly dark as well, that of course will impress many a wine drinker on its own, I just hope the wine will come together and that the tannins will resolve, giving an elegance or smoother feel. Potential is there and I can’t wait to revisit this wine in a year or so.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Feb 23

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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melvillevchard.gif2008 Melville Chardonnay Verna’s Santa Babara County.
There can be no doubt, the Melville family offer the best estate wines for the money in California, and this new vintage of Verna’s Chard can not be faulted, re-enforcing  my view even further. With Greg Brewer, Brewer-Clifton, making the wines and the Melville family helping in with great fruit, Melville Winery and Vineyards just seem to get better and better. This 2008 Melville Chardonnay Verna’s is lush and round, with pure fruit and classic Burgundian character. The nose is nutty and smoky with hints of matchstick and citrus, before lots of pear, peach and apple fruits flow across the palate, with flashes of hazelnuts, kiwi and wet stones, finishing with a citrus, almost lemon kiss and very light and subtle oak spice. This vintage was made with almost no new wood, but it still is everything you would want from a fine white and a great value for what you get in style and pleasure.
($24-26 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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