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Grapelive New Producer Update: Dos Lagos Vineyards, Better the second time around!

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Dos Lagos Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley.
Tom and Marcie Dinkel have again proved to be a star of the vintage, after last year’s amazing effort, this one might even be better, as the 2008 Dos Lagos shows more life and complexity. Tom Dinkel credits his vineyard team lead by Hector Lopez, with doing a monumental job under stressful and difficult conditions, for getting perfect grapes to famed winemaker Robert Foley to craft this amazing wine. The 2008 Dos Lagos Cabernet is dense and richly textured with powerful tannin structure and ripe flavors, leaving no doubt to Foley’s talents in making a blockbuster wine, though while the alcohol is near 15.5% it is a balanced Cabernet in the modern style. The nose is full of blackberry, mocha and pencil lead, with hints of vanilla and tobacco leaf, before a lush palate of currant, cassis, blackberry and plum fruits with a thick creamy body. There is added depth with hints of rocky mineral, dark chocolate and cherry liqueur, plus a touch of minty black licorice. This extreme vineyard site produces only tiny yields so there is not much of this intense wine available, all of which makes this Cabernet a rare find, and one that continues to get better with each vintage under the deft touch of an artisan Cabernet master.
($125 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge, Rhone Red, France. (Syrah)
While the vintage was tricky and lots of Northern Rhone reds suffer from a lack of ripeness and seem light, the Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage is a masterpiece and has a Grand Cru Burgundy like elegance and finesse. So, it may not be the blockbuster and collector success as the 2005 and 2007 are, but it is still magic and beautiful with the added benefit of being drinkable young with delightful freshness. This wine will fill out some, no question and should last ages, but it should be a drink earlier Hermitage, I might suggest within a few years, as it proved lovely after only a hour in the decanter. The nose is bright with violets, bacon, pepper and blueberry before a palate of boysenberry, cherry, creme de cassis and a subtle touch of gamey meatiness with white pepper and mineral notes. There is fine tannins, acidity and silky texture much like a graceful Burgundy, but with pure Syrah and Hermitage terroir charm. Chave’s 2008 vintage wines all show remarkable class and beauty, from their Crozes-Hermitage “Silene” to the very impressive Saint-Joseph, both being top values as well, but the classic Hermitage is something very special indeed.
($225 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 Domaine Tempier Rosé Bandol, France.
The 2010 vintage is intense and bright with all the stuffing you’d expect from this tasty dry Rosé with raspberry essence, strawberry, watermelon and red citrus fruit layers plus fresh acidity, depth, rocky mineral and nice texture. This Rosé is artisan crafted from hand picked grapes that consist of 50% Mourvèdre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 2% Carignan, then three techniques are used to make the rosé: direct press, short maceration, and saignée (5%) then the cuvee is aged in cuve for 6 to 8 months before bottling. This is a sexy and exciting wine and could be the greatest summer wine of the vintage! Just wish the price was more easy on the wallet…
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($37)

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2007 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero, Spanish Red.
I have long been a fan of this wine and have enjoyed it many times, and this vintage continues to impress with elegance and depth. I am glad to have had a whole evening to admire it, as it requires a bit of time to come out of its shell and open up. The nose starts out smoky, earthy and tight before revealing dried flowers, cassis and red fruits. The palate is robust to start, but smooths out to show firm silky tannins and blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruit with rocky red earth, cedar and cranberry. This wine takes on pure terroir essence, though you get elements that first make you think Bordeaux before coming back to classic Tempranillo in character and detail. This is a very stylish and polished wine that should get better over the next 2-3 years and drink very well for 5-6 years more. I great wine to enjoy anytime with almost any food, I’ll be grabbing a few bottles myself this summer.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive New Producer Review

By Kerry Winslow

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2007 Dauvergne Ranvier Gigondas “Vin Rare” Rhone Red, France.
This new domaine is a future star, and this 2007 Gigondas is a stellar effort, and by all accounts a sublime wine. I would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this gem and it certainly outshines many Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines at three times the price! I think this is all that and more, I hope to have a few more bottles soon, as it is already a joy to drink and it should go another 10 years easy. This full and rich Rhone is a classic in the making, with loads of spicy dark fruits, crushed stone minerals, pepper, and gobs of extract, texture plus a super long finish. Blackberry, cassis, strawberry and fennel flow across the palate in waves of thick layers. There is savory earth, dried flowers and trufflely game notes adding to the complexity, but everything is balanced and easy to love. Watch these talented winemakers, they are making some fantastic wines and are crafting everything from the vines to bottle with care and artistry!
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir “Clos Pepe” Sta. Rita Hills.
One of the stars of the vintage has to be Brewer-Clifton’s remarkable “Clos Pepe” Pinot Noir, it has it all, class and complexity with pureness of fruit. This pleasing gem is open already with perfume, richness and great length making it one of the best drink young joys of the bunch of the fantastic Pinots that Steve Clifton and Greg Brewer made in 2009. While I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the Brewer-Clifton “Mount Carmel and “Melville” wines, this “Clos Pepe” rivals them at this stage and is the sleeper in the line up, and one to grab if you can find it. The classic nose of rose petal and violets comes through with hints of mineral and fresh berries before a full and lush palate of black cherry, currant, plum and pomegranate fruits, while mineral notes and tea spices flow in the background. The subtle oak is well hidden, but gives a smooth texture with just a faint whiff of smoke and vanilla, and there is lots of clean acidity to keep things defined and vivid.
($53-57 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Samsara Syrah “Melville” Sta. Rita Hills.
This stunning Syrah is even better than the great reviews it has received already, and is really coming together well, filling out and getting more layered and complex. The nose has it all, perfume of violets, gamey earth and bacon, mineral notes, brown spices and black fruits. The palate is lush, but vibrant with blueberry, cherry, plum and boysenberry fruits leading the way with truffle, pepper, smoke and lingering cassis. Touches of bitter chocolate and fennel add to the whole and I would guess this amazing Syrah will just get better over the next 3 to 5 years, but I would be hard pressed to save any that long! Bravo to Chad Melville, he is really hitting his stride now and making fantastic terroir driven artisan wines in tiny amounts at extremely fair prices.
($40 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Wine of the Weekend

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Frederic Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos Prieur” Red Burgundy, France.
It has been a long time since having Frederic Esmonin Burgundy, but I will not let another 5 to 6 vintages slide by again after tasting their lovely 2009 Gevrey! This wine is a steal! Even with the Euro exchange it is insanely low priced considering the vintage and quality here, you’d be hard pressed to find a cheap Bourgogne at under $40 these days, and this is a Cru class wine, a Gevrey-Chambertin! The nose is classic rose petals, tangy cherry and mineral spiced with an elegant, rather delicate palate of wild strawberries, cherries and crisp plums, with subtle truffle, a whiff of vanilla and tea and dried flower spices. This is a pretty Pinot Noir, a true and pure Burgundy that brightens the emotions and gives plenty of joy, it is not a blockbuster fruit bomb, but then it is better for it, being a very fine wine and an excellent example of the grape. As with all good things it is a limited release in the States, so find it if you can as it will go fast! By the way, it should develop and fill out over the next few years, drink now and for the next five.
($39 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($36.95)
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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Native 9 Pinot Noir “Rancho Ontiveros Vineyards” Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County.
This ultra Pinot is a stunning wine that just might rate as best of vintage for 2008, and is a beautiful and pure Pinot Noir that should not be missed! Native 9’s winemaker used to be the assistant winemaker at Alban and his also makes a fine Syrah as well, but this Pinot is a real star. The nose is deep and perfumed, as it unfolds you get violets, crushed berries, mineral spice and sweet smoky notes. The palate is filling and vibrant with blueberry, cherry and plum leading the way along with exotic spices, vanilla and a lingering berry finish. The balance is suburb and the depth and length are more than impressive. ($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Meo-Camuzet Bourgogne Rouge (Red Burgundy-Pinot Noir) France.
Domaine Meo-Camuzet is one of the top Domaines and produces only tiny amounts of select Burgundies, and an even more small slice gets imported to the US, through Kermit Lynch. So it is a remarkable pleasure that any of this amazing value priced bottling was available to sample, as very little ever makes it to the shelves of fine wine merchants or restaurants. The winery says this cuvee is a blend of vineyard plots in Nuits-St.-Georges and Chambolle-Musigny and you can taste the class and quality in the glass. I am a firm fan of Meo-Camuzet and adore the Marsannay, which I try to get my hands on every year if possible and this year is no exception, but I have found this 2008 Bourgogne to be even more structured and more classic in style with clear focus and depth. The nose is a bit shy at the moment with very little given away before a tangy and tight palate of bright cherry, plum and currants, white firm tannins and acidity hold things in place. There is subtle oak, earth and mineral tones that play well with the red fruits, though I think it would be best to give this wine and bit more time to fill out. It gets savory and spicy on the finish and is super with food, plus it has a great price at under $35!
($32-34 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($31.95)
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