Grapelive Special Report

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Grand Cru Red Burgundy.
Though this beauty won’t be released for almost two years, it is worth noting that it is one to wait for and pre order if you get the chance, it certainly looks like it will be a classic, if not an all time great Burgundy to covet. A huge thank you to the people at Fredrick Wildman for allowing me a taste of this amazing barrel sample, I can tell you everyone here in San Francisco that was at this tasting are a grateful lot! After reading many reports about the 2010 vintage and glowing reviews by the likes of Jancis Robinson I was really excited to see for myself what all the hype was about, and while I’m convinced the top end wines are as good as they can get in the reds, it may prove to be an even better vintage for the whites across the board from cheap village wines to Grand Cru, where as the reds seem to really jump dramatically in quality once you hit the Premier Crus, and then another jump up in the Grand Crus, like this ultra fantastic 2010 Chambertin from Eric Rousseau, who is taking over from his father Charles, at Domaine Armand Rousseau. I understand he may add stems in small amounts and uses mostly new wood on the grand Crus, but both seem subtle in this very pure and primal Pinot Noir, and while no where near complete yet, it shows plenty and without doubt become a legend. The nose has fresh red and black fruits, violets and a touch of smoke before a palate of currant, cherry and strawberry fruits that coat the mouth and even at this stage linger on and on. There is silky tannins and firm acidity holding things together even though this baby shows a lush texture, most likely it will tighten up a ton in bottle, so be sure to keep your hands off for another few years after release, even though that means not tasting until at least 2016 or later! As with Rousseau, lots of terroir and mineral spices will come with age, so again rewards to those that are patient. I have a soft spot for Clos de la Roche, and Rousseau’s is also sublime in 2010 as are the Gevrey and Charmes, keep your eyes open for them when the come!
($400 Est.) 96-98 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2006 Conti Sertoli Salis “Grumello” Valtellina Superiore DOCG, Italian Red.
I just love these mountain Nebbiolo wines, and this pretty Grumello is just a sexy and intriguing wine with delightful life and vibrancy. Only a tiny handful of producers make these rare wines from steep terraced vineyards in extreme mountainous Alp terroirs in the very north of Italy, so it is always a deep pleasure to get a chance to try one. Many of these growers also do small lots of Amarone like versions made from late picked and dried Nebbiolo grapes, and I adore them and find them better than most of the real Veneto Amarones on occasion. This wine is not from dried grapes, but it does have an exotic and sweet herb layer that you don’t find anywhere else with blue and red fruits and a savory earth and spice element. This Conti Salis Valtellina was new to me and I love it and can’t wait to try it again and the other wines from this small artisan producer. The nose starts with dried flowers, sweet herbs and lavender spice with hints of rose petals and fennel along with a tangy plum note which lead to a mid weight palate that shows cherry, plum and wild strawberry fruits plus mineral, truffle, licorice and a touch of tar with acidity and supple tannins. This is a totally unique Nebbiolo that only hints at it’s more famous cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco, but is almost as enjoyable.
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 M. Lapierre, Morgon Cru Beaujolais, French Red.
The 2010 vintage of Lapierre shows a more subtle and delicate nature with zesty vibrant verve and energy that the last two vintages did not have, even if the 2010 seems lighter at this stage. The nose is bright with lilac, red citrus and iodine along with red fruits and a whiff of forest floor earthiness before a fresh palate of cherry, strawberry and juicy plums. With hints of straw bales, walnut shells and fig this wine has plenty of charm to seduce. This cuvee is produced without added sulfur and needs to be kept carefully or drunk young, either way this is a rewarding wine and I think it should evolve nicely for 4-6 years.
($25 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 Jean Foillard, Morgon “Cote du Py” Cru Beaujolais, French Red.
This a classic Foillard vintage with sublime balance and texture, much like a wonderful Cru Burgundy in class and style, there is no question Faillard is a great artist and his wines masterpieces all. The 2010 shows strawberry, black currants, walnut and bing cherry with hints of briny truffle, fig paste and mineral tones all in a lively mid weight palate. The finish is sublime and long lasting with a refreshing crispness and focus. While not as heady as the 2009, this a prettier and more complex wine that should age extremely well.
($37 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Weingut Willi Brundlmayer, Pinot Noir “Cecile” Kamptal, Austria.
This elegant Pinot Noir is really a gem with crushed rose petals, spicy minerals, red berries and subtle earthy essence. Brundlmayer is one of the top estates in the Wachau region of Austria and is based in Kamptal with lovely terraced vineyards near the Danube. This fantastic winery makes a stunning selection of top quality wines from a Champagne class or better sparkling wines to sublime Rieslings and Gruner Veltliners, but they also make one of the finest Pinot Noirs in the country, and it can often rival the more well known Burgundy domaines and German Spatburgunders. Without question, I think the 2008 “Cecile” is the best yet with such silky texture, life and complexity it just sings and does so with massive sex appeal. The palate is round and filling with soft cherry, raspberry and plum fruits, mineral rocky tones, truffle notes and lively acidity with a sublime finish that goes on for minutes. Truly world class and beautiful, if you can find some you’ll be thrilled.
($58 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Casale del Giglio, Shiraz (Syrah) Lazio IGT Rosso, Italy.
This big and fruit driven Syrah comes from the western edge of Lazio, north of Rome and gains from the coastal influence that this unique terroir gets and gives it nice acidity to balance the bold flavors. Casale planted many international varietals here with Syrah and Petit Verdot doing exceptionally well, along with Chardonnay and Viognier, plus Merlot and Cabernet, they do have Sangivese and other Italian grapes as well, but it is the transplants that seems just that bit more remarkable. Casale regularly gets high praise for the quality of their wines, and I have not had a single wine from this winery that did not impress, but the Syrah based wines just have that something extra, like this fine and rich Shiraz. The nose is earthy and spice laced with a touch of perfumey violets and blackberry jam, leading to a palate that delivers the promise of the nose and gives deep dark fruits and a heady thick texture. There are layers of boysenberry, cassis, bitter chocolate, intense melted licorice, warm stones and a hint of game. While this is no question a modern and ripe wine, it still has many old world charms and it is a steal at this price.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 August West Pinot Noir “Rosella’s Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.

This new release from Ed Kurtzman & Gary Franscioni is round, lush and dark with pretty cherry, cassis, truffle and mocha. It looks like Rosella’s is knockout for the vintage, and this wine changes in glass becoming more complex by the minute and it opens to a more classic cherry and mineral laced Pinot with air, though many will enjoy it as it is with the bold black fruits and creamy texture. August West is the sister label to Roar and while Ed makes both wines, the August West wines see less oak and this vintage seems a bit more subtle then past efforts. I love all the wines in the lineup, the Graham Vineyard from the Russian River Valley and the new Franscioni Vineyard Sierra Mar, but maybe the Rosella’s just has that little extra and I find it a touch more complete and sexy. The rich and plummy fruit shows the youth at this early stage, but I think it should age well with the balanced acidity and structured tannins. The normal earthy tones are way in the background and the light smoky sweet French oak shadings give only a light kiss of vanilla spice. The Sierra Mar is also a very impressive wine, but it needs more time to evolve, maybe because the vines are so young? I hope to revisit these again and see what happens, though I am sure the Rosella’s is a star.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc, France.
This wonderful blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Clairette is bright and cusp, but has a good expansion on the palate and a creamy roundness plus nice mineral tones. The nose is full of crushed stones and honeysuckle with a hints of citrus and spice before a vibrant palate of stone fruits, white peach and apricot lead the way, but there is tangerine and tropical notes too. Tangy acidity adds a clear focus and balance, making this vintage rather special and gives lots of life to the wine.
($15 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Moric Blau Fränkisch, Burgenland, Austrian Red.
In a rare moment, I couldn’t help myself and ordered a full bottle off the wine list on a whim, and surprise surprise it was a complete gem and even if it was a bit much for one person, it was enjoyed to the last drop, and that bottle was this 2009 Moric Blau Frankisch from Austria. While Austria is know for their fantastic whites, Gruner Veltliner and dry Rieslings, their reds have been gaining in popularity in recent years with people enjoying the refined style and ease of use in wines made from Zweigelt and St. Laurent, but it is Blau Frankisch that is really turning heads. Blau Frankisch, know as the “Pinot of the East” because of it’s charms and elegance when done correct, it is also called Lemberger in Germany and is grown across eastern Europe, but to date it is the Austrian versions that rise to the top. The best areas seem to be Carnuntum and the greater Burgenland region of Austria where the weather allows a longer ripening period and where the wine shows intense color and complexities. The 2009 Moric Blau Frankisch shows a deep blue/red hue and is silky rich with ripe tannins and superb length on the finish. The nose has spicy notes accenting the floral perfume and the palate is full of vigor refined and round with black cherry, plum, cranberry and lush red currant fruit with mineral notes, subtle bell pepper and fig paste. I found myself comparing it in my mind to a Loire Valley Cabernet France meets a Alto Adige Lagrein, even though it is very much it’s own wine with uniques qualities.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Delas Freres Saint-Joseph “Cuvee Francois de Tournon” Rhone Red, France.
This polished and fruit driven Syrah has lots of Cotie-Rotie like character and is a wonderful Saint-Joseph with gobs of black fruit, blueberry compote and sweet tannins with just a touch of volatile acidity. There is a nice seaweed, saline and spicy edge to go with the rich boysenberry, blackberry and cassis layers making for a balanced wine, even if I was looking for a bit more mineral and maybe a touch of violets, this is a really good wine and one that has plenty of time to find itself and develop more complexities. Touches of black pepper and bitter chocolate come through with some air and everything settles into where it should be. Don’t let my personal impatience stand your way as this wine is a steal for its quality and focus, and I can admit I’ll be getting a few more bottles myself if I can find them! With Parker’s huge ratings for 2009 Northern Rhone wines has started a craze for Delas and many others wines like this one are going to be harder to find, so get them while you can. Delas Freres also makes some fantastic entry level reds, especially their Cotes Du Ventoux which I have been buying for more than 10 years, and a fine basic Cotes du Rhone Rouge, plus they made tasty whites too.
($32-40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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