Hot Picks Nov. 10th 2007

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2005 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis “Montee de Tonnerre” Premier Cru (White Burgundy)

This is wine is always one of the world’s best whites and Raveneau is a master of this region and its grapes there is no doubt at all. Chardonnay may never be better than this! Chablis Chardonnay is pure, clean and elegant with pretty vibrant flavors and wild stoney mineral notes. This maybe one of the best ever vintages and this wine is amazing and damn near perfect, even if it is really too young to give its all yet. It opens slowly and tight with lime and slate that is very robust and tangy. With its youthful acidity still gripping the fruit is slow to develop, but wow after thirty minutes open at almost room temp. it explodes! This lovely white has white peach, lemon, green apples and a touch of spice on the palate. There is a awesome pear note that fills your mouth and stays all the way through with added touches in the background of liquid mineral that is both a taste and texture. Truly a mind-blowing wine that is worth the money and time to find! ($99-150 Est) 97 Points, grapelive

Kermit Lynch

*Very Limited. Call Bouchee Wines 1-831-626-7880

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2005 Ridge Geyserville California (Zinfandel) Sonoma County 40th Vintage Bottling

Three cheers for this California classic! 40 years of Geyserville is a very important and historic milestone, and this vintage proves it is worthy of 40 more! This vibrant and robust Zin is everything it should be and is every bit a true Geyserville has been and still is. This lively red has plenty of raspberry, briar, plum, cherry and bramble berry fruit flowing on the palate with hints of spice and cedar. The finish is zesty, clean and polished, this is a fine wine to be enjoyed anytime.($33 Est.)* 92 Points, grapelive

*Widely Available

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2006 Pax Syrah Sonoma Hillsides Russian River Valley

This wine is almost black, and for sure no light can get through it! This is great stuff with loads of thick fruit, but with balance and style. Lovely violets, sweet spices, lavender and black fruits shine through, leading to chocolate laced currants, cassis, blueberry and plum compote. Zesty, spicy acidity, earth, game and vanilla all add to the depth and complexity to this wonderful Syrah making Hermitage and Cote-Rotie proud! The finish is huge and long, giving lots of pleasure for what seems like 2-3 minutes! ($50-55 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

*Very Limited

Bouchee Wines


Radog Whites

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2006 Radog Gewurztraminer Monterey County
This is a nice juicy white with some classic Gewurz charm and spiciness. They is some bright citrus and apricots that shine through here and good acidity that makes this a balanced lighter style wine that is good for Asian cusine. ($17 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive

*Available through www.radogwines.com direct

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2006 Radog Sauvignon Blanc Arroyo Seco, Monterey County
This Sauvignon shows some interesting terroir and sweet fruits along with crisp acidity and a tangy aftertaste. Dried candied citrus, lemon-lime and pear notes lead the way and zesty cleansing acid keeps it together. This little white makes for a good afternoon picnic wine and or fruit and cheese.($17 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

*Available through www.radogwines.com direct

Grapelive November Musings

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It’s Fall, The Joyous Time of New Releases!

This change of season brings the end of harvest and the time of year for new releases, so it is a thankful time and one to savor. It looks as if 2007 Harvest brought a very good vintage, as most of the growers I’ve talked to have said the magic combination of tiny berries and low yields have been uttered many times and that usually means top quality. This means great wines are fermenting in barrel or tanks, but in the meantime we have the new releases hitting the market now. 2005 and even some 2006 wines are popping up, in this case I mean red wine, as 2006 whites have been around for awhile now, and I can tell you both the 2005 and 2006 are super vintages! Look for great 2005 Cabernets to start hitting the selves near you and I say buy them up now before those critics start giving scores! I tried a couple of new releases, 2005 Keever Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($69 Est.) and 2005 Parsonage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve <Click Here for 2005 Parsonage Reviews> both of which were awesome! The Keever is going to be a huge deal, a wine to watch for sure. Both wines rated in the mid to high Ninety point rage! The 2006 vintage Syrahs and Pinots are now just being let loose and show lots of promise, in fact they are fantastic! I fell head over heels for the 2006 Pax Syrah Hillside Sonoma ($50-55 Est.), it is a big wine, but is drinking great and super thick with almost black color! As for 2006 Pinot, it is great and less acidic than 2005, though it has sublime balance and depth, one that got my attention was the 2006 Drew Family Pinot Noir “Gatekeeper’s” Santa Rita Hills ($45 Est.) This was an amazing Pinot with intense flavors and deep complexities. So we have much to enjoy about this fall!

Guten Tag! Here are German Pinot Noirs that are darn good!

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2005 Domaine Assmannshausen Staatsweinguter Kloster Eberbach (Pinot Noir) Spatburgunder Spatlese Trocken “Assmannshauser Hollenberg” Rheingau

Everything about this Pinot Noir is lovely and vibrant, well except the label and trying to pronounce it! After that struggle for this language challenged Californian, I was over joyed with the quality and purity of this German Pinot. No doubt, this is an “Old World” wine, but it is so charming even the most fruit-headed of Pinot drinkers will be impressed. I will tell you, I might have easily thought this was a premier cru Burgundy, either Nuits-St. George or maybe a Volnay and regardless this was a fun and pretty wine. The palate is full and lush with tingling red berry and solid cherry fruit, spices, and earthy cranberry. The wine has some lingering plum and mineral notes and only a touch of gamy mushrooms. Overall this is a super wine with nice balance and graceful winemaking that is not trying to be anything other than what it is. German Pinot is rare and difficult to find, but that said you should really try and find some! ($40-45 Est) 90 Points, grapelive

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2003 August Kesseler (Pinot Noir) Spatburgunder Rheingau QbA Trocken

Kesseler Rieslings are legendary and offer great quality at a impressive price, but his Pinots are extremely rare and have achieved “Cult” fame at home in Germany so they are a rarity here and very pricey. This one is the exception and is that high quality fair priced gem that we all search for. 2003 was a very hot and ripe year, which really helped the growers get great grapes even for their lesser wines. You won’t find this deal every vintage, so if you see it get it! This Pinot shows lush and fat fruit with red berries, cherry and sweet plums on the palate. The wine is fruity, but has good balance and is interesting and not dull at all with touches of spice, earth, slate and truffle that keep you guessing. While German Pinot is unique, it certainly can be very good and in league with Burgundy, it is also much more pleasurable with food. Very cool wine. ($35 Est.) 88-90 Points, grapelive

Dee Vine Wines

* Small amounts available at BoucheeWines call 831-626-7880

Grapelive’s Hot Picks

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2001 Mastrojani Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

This is a beautiful and pure Brunello that is both clean and old world charming, proving this is one place where you can keep terroir and still make a modern palate happy. Lovely richness and sublime textures with vigor and live, this classic Brunello can be drunk now or kept for another decade. Cherry, strawberry, cassis and dried herb Sangiovese purity flows across the palate with touches of rose petal, red berry and tobacco that add to the complex array of layers. This wine has a near perfect balance of fruit, tannin and acidity, again highlighting the vintage and superb winemaking here. ( $48 Est) 93-94 Points, grapelive


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2006 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone White, France

This classy vibrant white has plenty to love and is never anything but fresh and beautiful. Soft peach, pear and apricot fruit, clean acidity and subtle mineral and spice notes. Gets bigger and deeper with air, but it never gets flabby or out of balance. This Chateauneuf Blanc is fantastic and has the style of a Puligny in if it is Southern Rhone wine, that is how pure and focused it is. It shows ripe fruit, smooth texture and a full round mouth-feel with a long zesty finish. ($52-55 Est) 92 Points, grapelive

Kermit Lynch Direct

Also avail. at Bouchee Wines

Latest Reviews, Weekly Picks

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2005 La Spinetta Barbera D’ Asti Ca Di Pian, Piedmonte, Italy

I am a hopeless fan of this producer, I feel they might be the overall best winery in Piedmonte! This wine is a joy and offers so much it is hard to not fall in love with it. A super value, even with the lame dollar to euro, at $28 this is a steal. I get a case or so whenever I can! It is hard to find, but now that the Henry Wine Group imports it direct it has became easier for restaurants and wine merchants to get it, so get on your local to pick it up! Lush red fruits, plum, cherry and berries with some pretty currants. Good dark color and full-bodied, this Barbera gives it all. I give this wine to all my friends, and they just call it the Rhino Wine, because of the label drawing. ($28-30 est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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2006 Chateau Thivin Brouilly Cru Beaujolais (Gamay Noir) Claude Geoffray, French Red

If you want to perfect Thanksgiving red this just might be it, just one sip will convince most to the pleasure of a real fine Beaujolais! This clean and structured Gamay has tons of fruity flavor, but is lively and medium bodied. Pretty fresh crushed berries and strawberry compote smoothly dance on the palate with a flourish of cranberry and dried flowers on the finish. This is a totally yummy wine that has class, but easy to quaff anytime. You can find it through Kermit Lynch in Berkeley and it is under $20 most places! ($18-22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Reviews & News Oct. 2007

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I’m back from exploring Russia

Okay, so the wine sucked, but Russia was awesome and the beer and vodka made up for the disappointment with the wine. I tried an Abkahzian red made with a native Georgian grape of which I can’t spell nor pronounce, while the winemaking was sloppy and dirty I do believe the grape could be a very good one. I was told the Georgian made versions are wonderfully rich and compelling, but alas it was not to be for me. Russia has a strict embargo against Georgia and most of their ex-republics, which they claim is for quality and health safety issues, though it is known to be a political issue. So I made due with Baltika beer, which is like the Carlsberg of Russia and based in Saint Petersburg. Baltika makes about 12 different styles of which I tried most! The wheat beer (number 8 on the label) I think was the best, though the export Lager (number 7) and the porter (number 9) were of very good quality. The Russians did have a super selection of Italian wines along with a good choice of Aussie and French as well, so drinking wine is not bad and I did see more people drinking wine than vodka in restaurants, which did surprise me. There is a really bad drinking problem in Russia and lots of lives are being lost to alcoholism and drunk driving, but that said, Moscow streets were not littered with drunks and most people drinking out in public were doing so with beer and seemed fairly lucid. While surprised by the lax enforcement and open public drinking, it was nice to sit in front of the Kremilin on a sunny day with a brew from a keg served from a rolling kiosk! Check back as I’m putting a whole article together on my Russian holiday soon, under the “Fermented Travel” column.

Too see my notes on the latest Pasonage wines, check out my barrel tasting from last month <click here>

Latest Reviews

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Bergerie Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

I have wanted to taste and review Joly wines for years, as he is one of the great pioneers of Bio-Dynamic (super organic) winemaking and is extreme in his views about it. I must say that I am now a full on believer! This Chenin is one of the top white wines you can get, with richness, depth and earthiness that puts it on par with Montrachet
or a great Alsace wine. This is his middle priced version and it is golden in color and has a perfect balance between old world and new world, meaning it has ripeness, but retains clarity and vibrant flavors. Peach, white plum, pear and clove with hints of mineral, straw and citrus. It finishes with dried flowers and a touch of honey. This is a joy, especial for the geeky wine drinker that is looking for something different to try their friends on.($45 est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Coulee de Serrant, Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

This is the top of Joly’s line and my God is it good! Like a Grand Cru Burgundy or First Growth Bordeaux, sometime somewhere regardless of price you must try this wine. It is lovely and intense at the same time and is amazingly complex for a Chenin Blanc, proving that Nicholas Joly has something special and his extreme views just might be 100% correct. This Bio-Dynamic thing has got something to it and this wine could be the poster child for the movement. This has to be the greatest Chenin in the world, who is going to argue that claim? Well I’m sure many, but find this wine and try it then write me and tell me it is not true! Jess Jackson (Kendall-Jackson) and his Regal Wine Company sells this wine wholesale, so ask your local wine store to get you some. This lush and pure wine has a freshness and light touch at first, but gets bigger and richer with air. I found all kinds of white and yellow fruits, flowers and subtle mineral notes with a grace and character not found that often in this in your face world. The texture is amazing and the length is fantastic. Words can’t do it justice, so at some point you’ll have to try it yourself. ($90-100) 96 Points, grapelive

Parsonage 2005 Releases

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2005 Parsonage Merlot Estate Carmel Valley
This is the breakthrough vintage for the Parsonage estate Merlot and maybe the dark horse of the vintage! I was impressed with the dark inky color and perfume that has all ready come together in this wine. The mouth is very full and complex with lush cherry, plum and dark berry fruits. The oak is well infused and adds sweet vanilla and mocha notes. Not much of this Merlot will be produced, so be sure to add it on your offering if your lucky enough to be on the winery mailing list, this is not a Merlot to be overlooked! 92 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah Estate Carmel Valley
Syrah has always been a winner here and this rises to the next level, as the vines mature on the estate lots more underlying flavor and complexity shows through. This vintage is the cleanest and more defined yet, with Blueberry, spice, plum, cassis and mineral all in sharp focus. This wine will be a steal on release, so don’t be shy and get on their list today! Added touches of smoke and game give a hint to its Syrah intensity and class. 93 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Carmel Valley
Cabernet did really well here in 2005 and I think it is showing much more character as well, I think the grape is star here and it seems to be so correct that I have a hard time finding any flaws! Pure classic fruits and depth make this vintage remarkable and especially noteworthy. Mixed black and red berry, plum, currants, cassis and chewy tannins scream Cabernet and don’t let up. The complex underbrush, herb and tobacco notes are very subtle and the hints of licorice, vanilla and cranberry are lovely. 93 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah Reserve “Carmel Stone” Estate Carmel Valley
Coming off the upper block of the hillside this Syrah is jet black and inky dark, same as last year, but there’s even more going on and it seems much more pure. So in fact an awesome wine just got even better, and honestly I was surprised, because I loved the 2004! I got lost on the nose alone, the violets and herbal spices are amazing and beautiful. Fantastic balance and depth make you think Cote-Rotie, but it is truly a wine of its own place. Sweet boysenberry, cherry, plum and wild mountain berry fruit, white pepper and liqueur all come at you in perfect layers. 96 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah “Cuvee Rocco” Reserve Estate (Special Barrel Selection), Carmel Valley
This special barrel selection takes the darkest and most intense Syrah and it shows an added intensity and thickness throughout. Jet black and powerful now with ripe tannins, I might be going out on a limb here, but this maybe be the greatest expression of Syrah from Carmel Valley ever produced! The fruit is all about the dark side, with blackberry, blueberry and savory black currants leading the way, but this wine still retains tangy acidity that keeps it all flowing nicely. It is all ready dense and chewy even though it still will fill out even more, giving me reason to call it a blockbuster! 97 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Estate, Carmel Valley
Every vintage just gets better here, and 2005 looks set to take the throne as the Parsonage king wine. Nothing in this area even comes close to this wine, it is a freak of nature and I can only compare it to Napa and Pauillac in its style and richness, then again it just might even be better! Bill Parsons finds it hard to take in, but he is a man living the dream, as his wines rank as world class or even world-beaters! The 05 Reserve Cab is utterly fantastic with blackberry jam, cassis, currants and plum fruit bursting at the seams, it is almost more impressive for the depth and balance that is has! Everything is in its place and the wine is so focused and defined it can’t help but be a classic. 98 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage “Cuvee Bixby” Reserve Petit Verdot Estate, Carmel Valley
I tasted the blend in separate barrels, starting with the Petit Verdot with will make up the majority in this unique wine. This Bordeaux blend leans on the rare Petit Verdot grape, which has a darker color and deeper perfume than the other Bordeaux grapes. Though for some reason, here in Carmel Valley the grape also has a rich fullness and character that is doesn’t usually achieve in Bordeaux proper. This vintage shows crème de cassis, bright sweet flowers, a massive body and lush tannins. The subtle briar, tobacco and spice all add up to pure joy. The final blend should be about 75-80% Petit Verdot and then polished off with some of the reserve Cabernet and maybe a touch of the remarkable Merlot fruit this year. When I tasted the selected barrels of Petit Verdot there was some set aside for a new limited wine the “Cuvee Bixby” that is named for the latest edition the clan and I can tell you nothing is spared in making this the finest wine possible. As much as I can tell this special blend will surpass the amazing 2003 and 2004 vintages and maybe become one of the most sought after wines of 2005! *After tasting the final bottled version, I can tell you it all come together in near perfection, This is an awesome wine that will get better with some age as well. 96+ Points, grapelive

Parsonage Village Vineyard

www.parsonagewine.com

Winery Direct

Grapelive Picks Fun and Local Wines For Ol’ Factory Cafe

Ol’ Factory CafeOl’ Factory Cafe is now the hottest place in Monterey for cool Beer & Wine selections

Grapelive hand-picked a few wines for their by the glass list including: Martin Alfaro Chardonnay, Pasonage Snosrap Cyrano Red, Galante Vineyards Rancho Galante Cabernet Sauvignon, and then also picked a couple of worldly selections as well. The spicy and juicy Minervois and a New Zealand Pinot by Dashwood rounded out my picks and fills out a great selection of Beer and Wine at this very cool cafe. Morgan Christopher has made this “Green” built urban bistro into a local favorite with a light and focused menu and the best coffee by far in the Monterey area. It is my local and I’m there almost everyday. In fact I hope to have a tasting group of wine lovers there soon! Then there is the other drink of choice, Beer and they have that nailed with some great brews on tap, my unholy weakness is the wonderful and hoppy Green Flash IPA, but they have some German and Belgian brews that you won’t find on tap many places. Even the famed Beer Geeks of “A Year in Beer”and thebeergeek.com  are considering putting their picks on tap there! So if you get a chance you must check this place out. For more details go to: www.olfactorycafe.com

Besides Florence this is the best place for cappuccino I have found, well in this town anyway.

Wine Reviews, Articles & Travel