2010 Pascal Marchand, Meursault AC, White Burgundy, France.
The Marchand Meursault is a brilliant wine and a stunning example of pure Chardonnay at it’s best with lots of pleasure, mineral intensity and complexity. The 2010 Meursault shows citrus flowers, wet stones and tropical essences on the nose which leads to a vivid and clear palate of lime, lemon, white peach and a mix of apple and kiwi with chalky mineral, honeyed pear, clove and a touch of hazelnut. The subtle use of wood adds smooth richness, but doesn’t interfere with the purity and drive in this glorious wine and the focus is spot on while the finish holds a hint of earth and saline begging you to revisit this wine again and again. This rare treat with be a challenge to find, but the rewards will be worth it. This is what Chardonnay wines should aspire to be, elegant, vibrant and memorable!
($62 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine Etienne et Sebastien Riffault, Sancerre “Les Quarterons” Loire Valley, France.
This Sancerre has great depth, vigor and intensity with vivid flavors and fabulous mineral essence that comes from small yields and attention to details from vine to glass, this wine is pure class from strait to finish. Certified organic and using biodynamic (severe selection) practices the Riffault’s Les Quarterons is amazingly full on the palate without losing any drive from the acidity and brightness of fruit, showing deft winemaking and true sense of place and terroir. The nose is steely fresh with river stones, sea breeze, honeydew and citrus leading to a mouth filling palate of lemon/lime, melon cream, grapefruit, gooseberry and stone fruit fresh and pit with chalky mineral, spice and mint leaves. This fantastic white is true pleasure and a exciting new find in Sauvignon Blanc, imported by Return to Terroir, I highly recommend chasing this one down.
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Michel Gassier, Lou Coucardie Blanc, Costieres de Nimes White Rhone, France.
This Roussanne based white shows great intensity and vigor while remaining remarkably balanced and lush on the palate. It was great to taste this wine with Michel Gassier and hear of his estate and his vision of his wonderful wines, of which this 2011 Lou Coucardie white starred and performed like a fabled Beaucastel Blanc. Without question this is one of the greatest values in Roussanne out there and while still fairly rare, it is more available than most, especially as Eric Solomon Selections are in most US markets these days. Gassier’s biodynamic vineyards and consultant Philippe Cambie continue to turn out amazing wines of super quality and full of terroir charms and character. I’m hardly the first to notice of course, but I am very grateful to have met and tasted with Michel Gassier and I’m a huge fan of his wines. The 2011 Lou Coucadie white shows subtle jasmine and honeysuckle with mineral spice, marmalade and tropical fruit leading to a full and creamy mouth of apple, apricot, lime and tangerine fruits with flashes of chalk and saline, while notes of wet stone, clarified cream, fennel and peach in syrup add complexity. The acidity heightens the experience and lifts the flavors throughout and while crisp, this white possesses nice length and lavish richness.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Rochioli, Chardonnay Estate Grown, Russian River Valley.
This vintage of the Rochioli Estate Chard is refined and refreshingly subtle with medium weight, vibrancy and graceful round flavors with touches of mineral, saline and a delightful texture. The nose is steely with wet stones, hazelnut and a hint of fig with a burst of citrus and pear, leading to a layered palate of lemon, apple, pear and a touch of white peach. The restrained nature of this elegant wine almost brings a fine Chassagne-Montrachet to mind and highlights the cool vintage and shows the deft winemaking, even on the this scale, this is a well crafted Chadonnay that delivers nice detail, has good balance and gives lots of pleasure. While lean and focused it will certainly gain complexity and drink nicely for another 3 to 5 years.
($38-59 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2011 Sheldon Wines, Pinot Noir “Roma’s Vineyard” Anderson Valley.
This new Roma’s is coming out soon, and I am happy to have been able to get an early sample to try and can report that this 2011 is as interesting and soulful as the 2010 which is a stunning wine, but you can tell that the 2011 is going to reach great heights too. Still youthful, tight and racy the 2011 Sheldon Roma’s Pinot shows vibrant and intense fruit, mineral and acidity with sublime balance and at 12.9% alcohol is lively and remarkably fresh. This vintage will gain weight and fill out on the palate over the next year or two in bottle and as cliche as it might sound, this wine does remind of Burgundy with hints of truffle, pepper, lavender and dried spices adding to the mix. Overall the impression is one of focused and detailed Pinot Noir that gives pretty layers of cherry, plum, briery berry and red peach with hints of ripe stems, refined tannins and lovely transparency. Give this well crafted wine a chance to build on it’s elegance and quality and be rewarded, best from 2014 and should go another decade with ease and grace.
($42 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
Avail Spring 2013
2010 Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-St.-Georges “Les Chaignots” Premier Cru Red Burgundy.
One of the lightest and prettiest of Chevillon’s wonderful lineup of Premier Cru wines for 2010, the subtle and delicate Les Chaignots is the sleeper in the collection with understated perfume, spicy fruit and impressive length and pleasure. This wine is totally rewarding and merits attention as it should gain greatly over the next few years in bottle with detailed strawberry, cherry and tangy plum fruit, peppery spices, mineral tones and truffle notes to go along with refined tannins, lively acidity and wondrous focus. This well crafted Burgundy even drinks well now, though it should be rested for another 3-5 years before all it’s charms come out. The floral and spice hint at licorice and violets, but the most intriguing side of this Chaignot is the super long finish that is slightly at odds with it’s shy character, but gives tantalizing insight into it’s future.
($90-96 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com
2010 De Ponte Cellars, Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Wow, this 2010 De Ponte Dundee Hills is stellar and is pleasure filled start to finish with perfume, lovely balance, pretty fruit and a lengthy finish. For drinking now, there might not be a better Pinot than this and coming on the heels of tasting the Beaux Freres just makes this wine that much more impressive, in fact while the BFV might be a tad better and more age worthy this 2010 De Ponte is half the price and only a fraction of the total quality, so I would highly recommend getting this beautiful Pinot from the red soils of Dundee. The nose starts with roses, violets, mineral spices and raspberry notes leading to a full mouth of expressive fruits that include black cherry, plum, pomegranate, currant and mountain berry along with dusty earth, anise and saline touches. The clear flavors are heighten by low alcohol, good acidity, refined tannin and wonderful focus and subtle oak, showing gentile and talented winemaking at it’s best.
($38 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2010 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir “The Beaux Freres Vineyard” Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
I really have high expectations of Beaux Freres, so given that, I was blown away with the 2010 Beaux Freres, from a difficult vintage it shines with quality and class and might be the wine of the vintage from Oregon. While after dire predictions, the 2010 wines from the Willamette Valley have for the most part turned out very well, but the 2010 Beaux Freres is clearly in a league of it’s own with depth and beauty not found in many of the wines. There is something unique to Mike Etzel’s Ribbon Ridge site and there is a terroir character that shows through, with it being pure and biodynamic to core brings out a sense of place that is always present in the wine. I have been lucky enough to have had a chance to walk the vineyards and get my own feel of the place, it is a remarkable piece of land and the wines reflect that. The 2010 Beaux Freres Vineyard starts with smoke, flinty mineral and rose petals with hints of pepper, anise and red currants which lead to a palate that is refined and silky smooth, while retaining energy and vibrancy with blackberry, cherry and spiced plum fruits the driving force throughout. The background has sweet and savory elements with creamy oak, saline, wild flowers, earthy loam, more flinty/mineral spice, chalk and the finish is sublime and lengthy persistent. Drink this amazing wine now through 2018, though I might think it will go another decade easy.
($80 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine Costal, Chablis “Vaillons” Premier Cru White Burgundy.
Kermit Lynch, Jean Collet and Bernard Raveneau are behind this impressive Domaine and it shows in the remarkable quality and intensity of the wines, especially the latest offering which is a wonderful Premier Cru from Vaillons. Not many Chablis can match this complexity and depth for the price of Costal and it is a label to look for, and those lucky enough to have Raveneau in their cellar will be wanting to grab these Costal Chablis to drink while they want patiently for the Raveneau to age. The 2011 Domaine Costal Vaillons is taught and racy with youthful acidity, great minerallity and classic terroir making for a lovely citrus filled Chardonnay of stylish elegance and vigor. The nose is subtle still with wet stones, white flowers, green herb and honeydew melon which lead to a vibrant palate of chalky and steely mineral, lime and apple with lots of clarity and focus driving this wine, while hints of pear, lemon zest and touch of saltiness add to the mix. This beauty fills out with air giving roundness and has a added depth, but remains crisp and controlled throughout. This is the real deal, a classic Chablis, be sure to check it out before it disappears.
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-St.-Georges “Les Perrieres” Premier Cru Red Burgundy.
First, Nuits-Saint-Georges is way underrated and the top Premier Cru sites there might be on par with many Grand Cru sites elsewhere in the the Cote d’ Or, Second, This wine is flat out delicious! Even young, even without decanting and without food this fantastic Pinot Noir shines and shows remarkable balance all ready. The 2010 Premier Cru wines from Chevillon are all stunning, but this Les Perrieres is truly magical and special in a way that only pure Burgundy can be with intensity and transparency. This wonderfully flavorful wine shows floral and mineral tones on the nose leading to a palate that unfolds in seamless layers of fruit, spice, mineral and earth that all find a place and that don’t intros on each others charms. There is dried roses, hints of violets, truffle, crushed stones, forest floor notes, licorice and tea spices that play in the background, behind glorious black cherry, plum and briery red berries with touches of currants and apple skin along with a wild strawberry essence. The wood is only present in the round warmth of this masterpiece and frames this young Burgundy to perfection. Look for amazing evolution over the next 5 to 10 years and lots of pleasure to be sure. I think Les Perrieres is my favorite site in NSG, and the mid 1990’s wines of Henri Gouges remain in my great Burgundy memories of all time, and Chevillon is re-kindling them.
($100-120 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive