1996 Rocche dei Manzoni “Bricco Manzoni” Langhe Rosso, Piedmonte, Italy.
This stunning wine tastes young, fresh and vibrant, can it be really 15 years old? Yes it is and getting better by the minute! Sampling this wine was a pleasure and interesting to see it progress as the evening came and went, it just got better and better with air and still had remarkably pure color, almost showing no signs of age. This was like a classic vintage Barolo, rock hard and tight with earthy leathery edginess to start, then opening into a beautiful and complex wine with grace and elegance gathering strength over the course of an hour or so. Pretty floral notes took a long time to come forward, but did so with style and perfume to go with layers of fruit, sour cherry, blackberry, currant, plum and fig. The background of tea spice, celery root, truffle, minerals and subtle wood all add to the heady mix, making for a very special wine. ($45 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2009 Auguste Clape “Le Vin des Amis” Rhone Red. (Syrah)
This amazing 100% Syrah cuvee is one of the best drinking wines at this price I’ve tried in 2010, and for such a young wine it is remarkably balanced and stylish. Frankly it puts most Syrahs to shame, showing wonderful pure flavors and depth that some wine would only dream of having, even wines that sell for three times the price! The nose has all you’d expect from a Northern Rhone Syrah, be it Cornas, Hermitage or Cote-Rotie, with a mixed of violets, creme de cassis, gamey bacon, minerals and back olives, before a vibrant palate of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and cherry fruits with smoke, meaty essence, truffle, mocha, cassis and melted licorice. The finish is crisp and lavender laced with lingering smoke and plumy fruit. The “Le Vin des Amis” 2009 is a top contender for best wine under $25 of the year in my best of 2010 list! ($25 Est.)
2009 Jean Foillard Morgon “Cuvee Corcelette” Cru Beaujolais.
If you’ve never tried a Foillard Morgon, and or are a Burgundy lover, it is time to rush out and find one, especially this beauty! Jean Foillard does a few special cuvees as well as his wonderful Cote du Py, and this was my first chance to try the “Cuvee Corcelette” with its grey label and heavy bottle it certainly looks the part of a serious wine, and while that is impressive, it is the wine inside that makes the most impact. We know the 2009 vintage was the year to rise Gamay Noir to the world stage, but honestly wines like this Foillard even blow away the high expectations! This wonderful and complex Cru Beaujolais is really in another class all together, it certainly has pure Gamay character, but with such depth and texture it rivals many a top Burgundy, in fact it might even better some Grand Cru. He nose has floral notes behind blackberry, truffle and walnuts leading to a hedonistic palate of black currants, cherry and intense strawberry. This is a very sexy wine with layers of pleasure filling the mouth, but still has brisk acidity, tannin and earthy spices and sweet herbs in the background making everything more interesting and vivid. This wine with its sublime structure and class should age well for a decade, and should be at its best in another few years, though I doubt I could keep my hands of it and I love it now.
($36 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
available by special request at www.sfwtc.com (800) 681-WINE
2009 Charly Thevenet Regnie “Grain & Granit” Cru Beaujolais.
The son of famed Morgon producer Jean-Paul Thevenet, Charly has made a name for himself on the strength of the last few vintages and almost has a cult like following already. Kermit Lynch, the savvy importer has brought this wine over and is blowing through it faster than I can write about it. Made in the family style this intense Gamay shows inky purple color, richly developed fruit and lengthy finish with lovely balance and complexity. This Regnie is like none other that I’ve experienced and I would almost more like to compare it to a fine Burgundy, though it might even be more enjoyable if the truth were told, this is an amazing wine. The nose is fresh and floral, but with hints of mineral and wild strawberries, before a full palate of blackberry, plum, strawberry and walnut oil. There is an herbal note, some cassis, a little spice and a touch of cedar too. This Beaujolais will entice and seduce even the most boorish wine snob, and make anyone a believer. Not as exotic as Lapierre Morgon, but certainly a fine and wonderful that will age with grace and style no question. I’ll be stocking up on this beauty myself without a doubt. ($32-35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2009 August West Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands.
Another star offering from Gary Franscioni and winemaker Ed Kurtzman, the early release Santa Lucia Highlands 2009 shows rich and vibrant flavors and creamy texture. This vintage is from 100% Rosella’s Vineyard, Roar’s home estate vines, and done in mostly 1 year used French barrels that still have plenty of toasty char to soften and give that vanilla and smoky note. While this wine will really gain with another year in bottle, it is remarkably easy to love and enjoy now with the big youthful flavors standing out. The nose is fresh berries, baking spices, mixed flowers and very seductive, before racing into the palate with plum, cherry, strawberry jam, mountain wild berry and red currant layers. Toasty oak and unfiltered, slightly cloudy depth show up in your face, but given time everything should settle nicely and the lengthy finish is heaven. This is a wine that is fun and a super value so stock up, 2009 looks set to be another awesome vintage for the Santa Lucia Highlands! ($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2002 Dom Perignon “Andy Warhol Edition” Brut Champagne, Epernay (Moet et Chandon)
This is a sublime vintage and wonderful Dom, there is nothing not to love here, except that it is still very young and tight, though that is no fault what so ever. If you wanted to get some Dom to lay down, this is your wine, priced right and available, time to do it, as by next year it should prove scarce and pricy! The colorful Andy Warhol label edition means nothing to the Champagne fan, but may have some collector interest at some point. The nose is still shy, but the vigor and bracing power show up on the palate with edgy acid and citrus notes, but given air it rounds out and shows apple, white peach, fig, hazelnut and brioche. There is a tiny hint of chalk and mineral that adds complexity too. Words are not enough, you should at east try this Champagne, it would set the bar for your own palate! Dom Perignon went through a period of not being fashionable, but from my latest experience and tastings, it is again reaching the highest levels of quality, especially the Enoteque versions, I am still smitten with the fantastic 1993 Dom Perignon Enoteque, it has to be one of the best Dom’s I’ve tried, right up there with the 1990!
Side note: I pour a bit into a full size wine glass and swirled, and a wonderful toasty, smoke side came alive in the Dom Perignon, and the Champagne gained a white Burgundy quality, I think it would make a fine still wine! This vintage Dom does need some cellar time, I only wish I could afford to collect some.
($149.95-165 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
N.V. Louis Roederer, Brut Champagne Reims.
A bright and easy sparkler with good vigor and style, and quite a good value for the quality. The nose is citrus, bread and white currant, with a zingy palate of lemon and green apple. The finish is crisp and short with a touch of crabapple. Not a bad choice for a celebration or Sunday brunch.
($39.95 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive
N.V. Taittinger, Brut Champagne, La Francaise Reims.
This s a fruity and easy Champagne that has lots of lemon and white peach fruit and is very tangy, very Veuve in style, more fresh than past cuvee’s, I was almost disappointed, but it still is fun and joyful. Not much depth or texture, but well made with hints of apple and pear in the background.
($41.95 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive
N.V. J. Lassalle, Brut Champagne, Cachet d’Or 1er Cru Chigny-Les-Roses.
This earthy and brightly flavored Champagne is a great other choice in bubbly, rather than name brands. The nose has more depth and yeasty notes than the Grand Marques, with a more earthy tone on the palate with hints of truffle, apple skin and brioche to go with the vibrant citrus core. This cuvee is less mature than past bottling, but should age even better. Drinks well and gets more rich with air.
($41.95 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
N.V. Marc Hebrart, Brut Champagne, Selection 1er Cru Mareuil-sur-Ay.
Jean-Paul Hebrart’s Domaine makes the best Champagne for the money period, at least this year, and is a real star! This bottling has it all, great in everyday, nose, palate and finish, amazingly exciting and complex for a N.V. and lovely bubbles! Smooth yeasty brioche, lemon tart, apple and baking spices that almost give a caramel feeling. This Champagne is rich and full of life, don’t miss out, get this one if you can find it, as it it is from a very small grower producer. The Chardonnay is 100% Grand Cru and the Pinot is on limestone soils, all of which add up to pure quality.
($54.95 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
N.V. Pierre Moncuit-Delos, Brut Rose Champagne, Grand Cru Le Mesnil.
Nichole and Yves Moncuit have guided this excellent domain since they took over from their father Pierre in 1977. Always a steal for Grand Cru, even better still is that is comes from Le Mesnil, one of the great vineyards of the world. This Grand Cru Rose is bright and tangy, very dry, but with lush fruit essence, there is strawberry, cherry and loads of citrus. There is some depth and the finish gets good and long after some air, making for a suburb wine, and great with food.($44.95 Est.) 92-93 Points,grapelive
2002 Dom Perignon “Andy Warhol Edition” Brut Champagne, Epernay (Moet et Chandon)
This is a sublime vintage and wonderful Dom, there is nothing not to love here, except that it is still very young and tight, though that is no fault what so ever. If you wanted to get some Dom to lay down, this is your wine, priced right and available, time to do it, as by next year it should prove scarce and pricy! The colorful Andy Warhol label edition means nothing to the Champagne fan, but may have some collector interest at some point. The nose is still shy, but the vigor and bracing power show up on the palate with edgy acid and citrus notes, but given air it rounds out and shows apple, white peach, fig, hazelnut and brioche. There is a tiny hint of chalk and mineral that adds complexity too. Words are not enough, you should at east try this Champagne, it would set the bar for your own palate!
($149.95-165 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2005 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec “Clos du Bourg” Loire Valley, White.
This earthy and sweet Vouvray has vigor and life, though the veggie nose is a slight off putting, but the wine recovers on the palate with depth and a long finish. There is pear, quince, wet stones and peachy fruit. Hints of truffle, ginger and figs add to the whole on this demi-sec that still might need a few years to show its best. I’m hoping the nose develops more and that the acid continues to ease. It might just be a certain vintage thing regarding the nose, because I have not found the slightly unpleasant aromatics in other vintages of this wine, in fact I loved the 2007 and the current 2009 versions of the “Clos du Bourg” Demi-Sec, even though it should change given time. Since I don’t have huge experience with Huet, I have relied on a few collectors that echo my own thoughts on this one, but I will admit I’m not a 100% sure on this one and hope to revisit it in a few years to see what happens. I just might be being to fussy and I will say most people that tried it during a recent tasting didn’t catch the veggie nose as much and seemed to really enjoy this wine very much. So, I guess it is a personal taste, I might pass on this wine for myself, but I am glad to have had a chance to sample it, no question.
($44.95 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “Le Haut Lieu” Loire Valley, White.
This Vouvray is vibrant and fresh with citrus, bright and bouncy, melon, green apple and a core of tangy peach. Hints of chalk, lime and mineral really bring this pretty wine together, along with the racy acidity that keeps it all focused. This wine is very light and refreshing, though it should gain with another year on the bottle. Still, it is a very clean and nice Vouvray to drink now. Domaine Huet makes some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the world that can age beautifully, though this one can be enjoyed right now, so be sure to give Vouvray a try if you haven’t done so, as it is often overlooked and truly can be a remarkable wine when done right. Huet makes terroir driven wines of impressive character, showing the grape in its best light. Sadly, for me, I’ve only be able to try Huet Chenins in the last year, and now I know I’ve been missing out for many years!
($29.95 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “Clos du Bourg” Loire Valley, White.
This is near perfect Vouvray, young and fresh, but with wonderful richness starting to develop all ready. This wine has got nose, live and depth to spare with lovely flavors throughout. The nose is floral and mineral too, with orange blossom, lime and jasmine, while a cool mineral note gives a steely edge. There is a full array of white peach, apple, lemon/lime and pear fruit layers with tangy acidity that hides the depth and body still. If you want the soul or essence of Vouvray, than this is a wine to find, drink of few now and hold a few for a few more years, I’m sure you’ll be very impressed.
($34.95 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2007 Domaine Joguet Chinon “Clos du Chene Vert” Loire Valley, Red.
This wound up red has old world earthy funk and animal tones, but still hints at a pretty future with a background of violets and cassis. The first impression is important, though it doesn’t always tell the whole story, and I almost skipped the later chapters as I’m not a huge fan of the stinky funk that dominates the nose and palate. That said, not unlike older Beaucastel Chateauneufs, the funk does go away leaving a pretty and rewarding wine. Barnyard notes, mushrooms, green bell peppers lead, followed by dried flowers, violets, cassis, black cherry and mineral notes. Give lots more time.
($42.95 Est.) 87-89 Points, grapelive
2007 Domaine Joguet Chinon “Clos de la Dioterie” Loire Valley, Red.
This is almost a reverse on the “Clos du Chene Vert” and is much more elegant, fruit driven and beautiful is style, more the Cinderella to the step sister. While remaining true to its terroir with earth and bell pepper, it is far more eye catching, or palate catching I should say, with heady perfume of wild flowers, lilac and violet come to mind with currant and liqueur notes. The mouth feels full, but there is vibrant and tangy acidity too, making for an exciting and balanced Cabernet Franc. Look for many more years of pleasure with this beauty. Raspberry, cherry mint, truffle, graphite and cedar all play a part in this Chinon.
($44.95 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec “Le Haut Lieu” Loire Valley, White.
This lightly sweet Vouvray is drinking great now with lots of sexy peach, lemon/lime and chalky pear fruit that feels alive and fresh, not heavy or overdone. The “Le Haut Lieu” has a rocky mineral streak that tastes like crushed seashells in the background like a fine Chablis, but never drifts far from pure Chenin Blanc character with peach and light citrus. I got to believe this wine has about 5-10 years of glorious drinking ahead, though many purists might want to give it much more cellar time! I have heard more than a few stories about the glories of the 1947 Huet Demi! I have had a 1990 Vouvray Demi and marveled at the depth and joy of it, so who knows, it might be fun to hide a few bottles away.
($37.95 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
These wines are available at San Francisco Wine Trading Company- www.sfwtc.com
2007 Raina Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Rosso, Umbria, Italy.
Sangrantino, brought to Umbria and the little village of Montefalco in the 15th Century by friars and monks of the Franciscan order after a pilgrimage to Asia Minor, is thought to be one of the worlds most tannic grapes and has the highest level of Polyphenols of any red grape. In fact, we hope it s good for your heart, it was at first only used to make sweet wine (Passito) as it was too tough to tame for the the early winemakers! But after a few hundred years Sagrantino has made a name for itself as a powerful full bodied dry red wine and was granted a DOCG in 1992. The Raina Sagrantino is big wine and shows the grape off as it should, but delivers the tannins in a balanced and smooth fashion which holds the fruit in a firm, but elegant structure much like a fine Bordeaux. The palate is dense with red raspberry, plum, dark cherry, currant and blueberry layers with hints of mineral, fennel, dried flowers and cedar notes.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2009 Dupeuble, Beaujolais, Gamay.
Smooth and silky Gamay with bright and lush flavors, the Dupeuble, has more than expected depth and richness, making for a rewarding wine. 2009 has done wonders for Beaujolais and brought world attention to this underrated region and to the Gamay grape itself. This vintage shows strawberry, black currants and pecan shells with a plummy body and fine tannins. Even the most jaded of wine enthusiast is thrilled by these wines from Beaujolais and most f the Crus are selling out as fast as they come in! ($14.95 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2009 Coquelet, Chiroubles Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
This ripe and intense Cru is raw and shockingly gripping with dark fruit and impressive structure. Tightly knit and firm, you might even want to lay this one down for a year, but it does open up after a few minutes in the glass, and who wants to wait for a Beaujolais anyway! Not your grandmas Beaujolais that is for sure, but one to be taken seriously and at its best with food.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2008 Chignard, Fleurie, Moriers, Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
A much more classic Gamay, and one that shows the lighter side of the grape and region, making for a good contrast to the richer and more interesting 2009’s. Not that there is anything wrong or bad here at all, and in fact this wine is very lovely and soft, perfect for holiday turkey and party drinking. The palate is delicate with strawberry and cran-apple flavors mixed with touches of brown sugar, red citrus and hay.
($26.95) 86 Points, grapelive
2009 Colette, Regnie Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
Domaine de Colette is located in the small village of Lantignié, the top village within the “cru” of Régnié. The soils at Colette are worked organically in an effort to promote healthy and vigorous root systems and yields are kept low in an effort to produce concentrated wines. This is without a doubt the finest effort to date from this tiny family-owned estate. Lively and full of body this wine rocks and is a stunning value for the quality and richness found here, the nee is deep and floral toned with a juicy palate of dark fruits, plum, cherry, strawberry lead the way with touches of baking spices and pie crust. ($13 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2009 Piron, Chenas “Quartz”Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
This wine is not shy or in anyway close to typical of Gamay, in fact it tastes like young Nuits-St.-Georges with earthy intensity and powerful and mineral laced tannins. If you want a stoney and strong Gamay, this is your wine, as it takes a good long time for it to open up. While this wine has depth and power, it is not very giving and more old world in style with more acidity and chunky mineral notes than lush fruit at this stage, though it should develop nicely into a more Premier Cru Burgundy like wine over the next year or so in bottle. The palate has tangy cherry, cranberry, strawberry and sour plum with a steely grip of stoney mineral and earthy spices. ($21.95 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
Still available at pre-sale pricing at www.sfwtc.com