Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Lapierre Morgon Cru Beaujolais, France. (Natural Cuvee, Kermit Lynch)
Marcel Lapierre passed away recently and the world marked his passing with many a praise and story about his life and how his remarkable wines touched so many people. Without question he helped the world see the region of Beaujolais as a very serious wine region and his art and passion lives on in his family and his wines. As a more recent devotee and admirer I can only add that from what I’m had in the last three or four vintages from Lapierre, nothing has been short of excellent and I continue to buy them for myself, and because of Lapierre and Foillard I’ve become a Morgon fanatic. Like the rest of the world I’ve waited for this release with great expectations, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the 2009 vintage has been hailed as the year of Cru Beaujolais, maybe even more so than Bordeaux! Well, okay, more collectors will sink obscene amounts of money into ’09 Bordeaux than Beaujolais, but us wine drinkers will be stocking up on Morgon, Brouilly and other Beaujolais, that much is true! Real taste versus the hype, the verdict is in, and yup it is the real deal, 2009 Cru Beaujolais are rocking good and amazingly exotic with stunning fruit and are pure enjoyment. This Lapierre Morgon, which was a special cuvee with extra barrel age and without extra sulfur is wildly ripe and expressive with violets, wild flowers, blueberry, plum and cassis that explode on the palate. Lingering spice, strawberry and a hint of dried hay balance the fruit and add to the interest, the long finish is both sweet and savory with cherry, green pepper and brown sugar all subtlety coming through behind the vibrant dark fruits. Grab this wine, enjoy it young and be glad you did.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, Grapelive

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Gambero Rosso Gala

Gambero Rosso’s “Gala del Vino Campano” event in Naples.
By Brandy Falconer, Grapelive Guest Columnist
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Halloween in my eyes is pumpkins and costumes and candy, and although Italy is a little behind the times when it comes to this creative and fun celebration, this past week I was happy to see Naples come alive with overgrown fuzzy spiders and kids in costumes and spooky window displays.  I got much more than I bargained for when I extended my recent stay in Naples, because I was able to participate in what I consider a delightfully Italian spin on Halloween:  trick-or-treating with a wine glass!
On October 31, Gambero Rosso, producer of Italy’s most renowned wine and food guide “Vini d’Italia”, held a tasting event in Naples celebrating the Southern Italian region’s top-awarded wines and wineries.  The event location, Citta’ del Gusto Napoli, is a purpose-built food and wine event center complete with a test kitchen/professional tasting room, two-level expo area and beautiful outdoor seating area.  Home to monthly wine seminars, tastings and cooking classes, this location signifies a great shift in locals’ interest in wine as a part of their culture and cuisine, a delicious adventure we Californians have enjoyed for years. The event itself was a way for the wineries to showcase their award-winning wines for journalists and enthusiasts alike, and for the participants to discover the region’s treasures and compare them side-by-side in one evening.

Of the 1,019 entries from 200 wineries submitted from Campania’s five areas, Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Napoli and Salerno, 53 were chosen for the final tasting, and 43 received either the top award, the “tre bicchieri” or 3-glasses, or the “due bicchieri colorati” or two-colored-glasses.  Gambero Rosso is proud to highlight the wines from Campania because, as Daniele Cernilli, Director and co-Founder of Gambero Rosso believes, the region is one of the few dedicated to producing quality wines from ancient indigenous grapes, the major percentage of wineries producing 100% varietal wines without blending, even the 15% that is allowed by law.  In addition to the 24 stands showcasing the wines, seminars held during the event in the beautiful tasting room highlighted different groupings of the wines like “top wines under 15 euros” and “the Veterans, classics of excellence.”
Upon entering the event, my friend Kim and I were handed a press kit and a little fabric bag with a long strap.  Our candy sack?  No, the ingenious item invented to hold a wine glass around your neck, leaving your hands free for writing or grabbing delicious bites of taralli or mini fried ricotta pizzas between visits to the tasting stands.  Is there a better adult version of trick-or-treating?  Heck, we can buy candy any time we want, but going from stand to stand where eager sommeliers in full costume (ok, uniform) were offering exceedingly generous pours of the region’s top wines was a great treat!  The only trick was remembering to spit out the wine or at least pour out the remainder after the first sip.  Now, when it comes to Halloween, I am normally the first to decree costumes a must, but there was no need this year because what’s creepier than glossy eyes and a smile full of purple-stained teeth?!
We started our tasting with the whites and simply went stand to stand, which allowed us to really get a feel for the expression of the grapes from the 5 areas of the region, then doubled back for the reds, which were mainly Taurasis.  Among the featured wines, 19 of which were Tre Bicchieri award winners, the classic Campania grape varietals were on show: Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Aglianico, represented by the Taurasis, and Piedirosso.  Various awards were being announced throughout the evening, including one for sustainability, going to Contrade di Taurasi, and the Grand Mention going to a delicious Taurasi Principe Lagonessa DOCG 2006 by Amarano in Avellino.  Top honors went to Mastroberardino’s Taurasi Radici Riserva 2004, which in today’s news was just declared the top wine in Italy by the foremost guides.  An excellent example of comments by Vini d’Italia’s Gianni Fabrizio who has said that in recent years the benchmark of Italian wines has been placed farther south; first in Sicily and now in Campania, where wineries who have seen a slower growth process have in fact matured with a solid base of winemaking, gaining notoriety not “at once” as their counterparts to the north, but notably “at last.”
One thing about this event and about Naples in general was the expression of personalities, not only of the wines, but of the people who make and represent them.  This was an awards party, more for celebrating, rather than promoting, and the relaxed atmosphere added to the fun.  Notable whites for me were the San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi Bianco Pereva 2009 with its freshness and balanced flavors, perfect for seafood.  While the wine’s finish was adequate, the winemaker’s was rather lingering, as he recounted at length Jessica Biel’s recent excursion to the vineyard…  Another favorite white was the I Favati Greco di Tufo Terrantica Etichetta Bianca 2009 which expressed the typical complex, subtle honey and vanilla flavors which come from the grape, rather than from oak barrels.  This sharp contrast with American winemaking, white wines aged only in stainless, is something I love.
My favorite reds were the Taurasi Riserva 2005 by Contrade di Taurasi, wonderfully balanced between body and flavor and, with great enthusiasm, the Taurasi Radici Riserva 2004 from Mastroberardino-silky smooth, yet complex and elegant.  The only thing better than tasting this wine was sipping a glass at the end of the event with Mastroberardino’s winemaker, Massimo di Renzo and agronomo, Antonio Dente, who, along with Dario Pennino, Director of Sales, make up the team that produces these incredible wines.  As a group they are a great example of the concept of family, whether by blood or by choice, as being a strong and lasting foundation for success.
Like a great wine, the Gala’ del Vino Campano event had all the characteristics of excellence: personality, elegance, expression of the local area and the ability to bring people together to enjoy each-other’s company.  Next time you’re looking for a new wine, don’t be shy about picking up a guide from another country, like Vini d’Italia.  Having a look at how another country sees itself and rates its own wines will give you more of an insight into what’s in the bottle.  Salute!

Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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N.V. Marc Hebrart Brut Rose Champagne.
There is nothing to think about here, it is near perfect and delivers pleasure and balance, this Champagne house just has nailed it with all their offerings, all offer greatness for a fair price. The Hebrart Rose is another stunning value and a grand luxury in flavor and class, don’t miss out on this one if you see it. The nose has a yeast and toast note with some light strawberry essence in the background before a palate of cherry, golden fig and bread dough with a zesty finish. This Brut Rose Champagne is what all want to be, but few are, sexy, stylish and refined with great and modest manners, a perfect partner to show off to family and friends! Jean-Paul Hebrart is fast becoming one of my heros, bravo, for an excellent sparkler that dazzles.
($55 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Congrats to SF Giants-World Champs!

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N.V. Marc Hebrart “Selection” Premier Cru Brut Champagne.
Jean-Paul Hebrart’s Champagne are turning heads and are now hotly sought after, he looks like the next superstar of the region, even though they have been a top quality house since the early Eighties. Hebrart has more than sixty small plots of amazing sites in Premier Cru and Grand Cru areas, with mostly Pinot Noir, but with top Grand Cru Chadonnay parcels as well. All this and super hand-crafted winemaking add up to amazing quality and very interesting wines, this is a thinking man’s Champagne estate and Jean-Paul Hebrart is an artist at his trade. The “Selection” Brut is rich and stylish with toast, hazelnut, orange blossom, white currant, lemon and fig notes that are layered across the palate. This is a pure and savvy Champagne that is a celebration in its self.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2007 Meo-Camuzet Marsannay Red Burgundy.
This is still one of the best deals in fine Burgundy that you can get your hands on, and I highly recommend you do and quick! Meo-Camuzet is a top Domaine and while the top Grand Cru’s are nearly impossible to find vintage to vintage, this is one that can be had, and I’ve had my share since the 1997 vintage and have never been disappointed. The 2007 is a remarkable wine, and I could swear it was a Chambolle-Musigny, and if tasted blind would have guessed as such and would most likely has said it was a $85-125 range Burgundy. The nose is full of violets, blue fruits, rose petals and with a touch of game, very pure and sexy, before a well structured palate of black plum, cherry, blueberry and currant fruits, with round texture and silky tannins. The acidity is lively, but not aggressive and the wine remains in perfect balance from the first glass to the last. The background has mineral, licorice root, baking spices, subtle oak that seems mostly neutral and touches of truffle and dusty earthiness. It is hard to imagine wanting anything more from your wine, and Im looking forward to the next bottle all ready.  Drink now and for the next 3 to 5 years.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


Available at www.sfwtc.com ($39.95)

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Grapelive Latest

Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow


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2008 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir “Shea Vineyard” Yamhill-Carlton District , Willamette Valley, Oregon.
I’m at a loss for words, so all I’m going to say is if you are a Pinot Lover, buy up 2008 Willamette Pinots they are the bomb, and if you want something a bit more special then find this wine and be sure to get more than a few! Raptor Ridge always makes a fine wine, but that and with the magic of the Shea Vineyard, plus a great vintage make this a no-brainer. This Pinot Noir has the class and depth of a Grand Cru Burgundy, but with the fullness and terroir of the Shea Vineyard, with layers of fruit and texture. The nose is floral and savory with violets, roses, spice, smoke and truffle, before a lively palate of black cherry, plum, blackberry and tangy currants. The background has gunpowder, mineral, tea spice, briar and fennel with a long and lush finish of vanilla and fruit essence. I think it is wonderful now, but there might be a bit more gained by some years in the cellar. Enjoy this wine and make sure you have a few in the long term to visit later.
($42 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow


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2007 Sheldon “Weatherly Cuvee” Petite Sirah/Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
This is a stunning wine from label to glass, it is sexy and complex, ever changing and seductive with a warm chocolate essence. The nose is Bordeaux like with touches of smoke, vanilla, graphite and crème de cassis, plus a touch of minty menthol. This old vine cuvee has plenty of fruit on the palate and looks set to be a good aging red as well with tannins and acidity holding things together boldly. The mouth is a burst of blackberry, plum and cherry with tobacco, cedar and currant, plus some melted black licorice and pepper. The Sheldon’s found this wonderful field blend vineyard near Calistoga planted to Petit Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, old School Napa style and have hand-crafted one barrel, a hogs head and made only about 36 cases. This wine took nearly two years in the oak to come around, this baby was tough to tame, but it looks great now and should even get better in a few more years, though I doubt any bottle survives that long! (65% Petit Sirah-35% Cabernet Sauvignon)
($42 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


www.sheldonwines.com


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Review:

By Kerry Winslow

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rudiussyrah.jpg2007 Rudius Syrah “Emerald Pool” Alder Springs, Mendocino County.
Very Cote-Rotie like with lots of violets, blueberry, boysenberry and cassis, hints of meat and spice add to this elegant Syrah. Jeff Ames, winemaker at Tor and one of the hottest consultants in Napa, crafted this wine in a most natural fashion, all natural yeast and small bins used for fermentation were the original picking bins, so no harsh pumping or transfers were used. The “Emerald Pool” has wonderful life and texture and the finish is remarkably long and rich. I would love to have this wine in a line up of top Cote-Roties, tried blind, as I’m sure it would surprise and amaze in that company. This is a sublime wine and one I hope to get more of myself!
($45 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Review

By Kerry Winslow

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dujacgevrey.jpg2006 Dujac Fils & Fere Gevrey-Chambertin Red Burgundy.
This Gevrey is bigger and firmer than the Domaine Morey with an earthier and sexier edge to it, and though it is not as delicate it does have impressive depth and pureness. The nose is truffle, wild flowers, smoky sweet oak spices, cedar and game with a lush and vibrant palate of cherry, plum and blueberry fruit with baking spice, mineral notes, clove and vanilla in the background. This is a rich and intense Burgundy, but opens to reveal rose petals and freshness when given air, changing and intriguing with every sip. This wine is a great value for what you get, especially in its class, for a fine Burgundy.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Day
By Kerry Winslow


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2009 Sheldon “La Naris” Roussanne/Viognier, Sonoma Coast.


2009 Sheldon La Naris

This serious and sexy white has vibrant flavors and wonderful texture, and is fast becoming a favorite for most interesting domestic white of the year! Ever since tasting this beauty in barrel I’ve been crazy for her, the nose is more restrained now in bottle, but should get more perfumy with a bit more time, but the layers of stone fruit are amazing and are very Chateauneuf blanc like with apricot, white peach, pear, tangerine, quince, mineral, spice and a touch of tropical fruits. This white had zest and tangy notes, but is lush and round on the palate with a slight creamy/oily feel like a Hermitage blanc, all in balance and with real depth. La Naris is a gem and gives lots of pleasure, good job Sheldon’s, kudos.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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