Grapelive Latest: Dec. 9

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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meyer.gif2007 Meyer-Nakel Spatburgunder “Blauschiefer” Ahr, Germany (Pinot Noir).
I hauled this bottle back from Germany in April of 2009, after visiting the Rheingau and tasting wine from that region. I had tried the 2005 Meyer-Nakel Pinot after hearing it had won the “Best Pinot in the World” tasting in a blind tasting, both in Europe and in England, as reported by Decanter Magazine, and found it elegant and complex. So it was cool to find a bottle of this rare wine in a shop and at a very reasonable price, considering it goes for about $140 a bottle over here when you can find it, I paid $28 Euro for this bottle of 2007 Blauschiefer, and I was really happy. Even after all the hype and hardship of finding a bottle, it was all worth it and it is a stunning Pinot that has layers of silky flavors that are very focused, much like a good Burgundy, almost like a Chambolle-Musigny, but it also shows its Ahr (River) and German terroir with some slate driven flinty mineral notes and strawberry pie that seem unique. 2007 was a tough year for red wine in Germany, so I was ready not to be impressed, and it was quite the opposite in truth, I was almost knocked off my chair! This is a wonderful and complex wine from the “Red Baron” as Meyer-Nakel is know as in German for his noble and full-bodied Pinot Noir (red wines) with glorious perfume, creamy textures and long complex finish. The color is not what you’d find in California, but the depth of flavors would match up nicely against any serious Pinot from anywhere, though more like a fine Oregon vintage with plenty of plum and cherry fruit, mineral spices, blueberry and touches of white pepper, chalk, smoke and vanilla from the perfect use of quality toasted French oak barrels. ( 28 Euro to $140 US) 94 Points, grapelive

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The US prices for this wine would seem too high, though it is at the same quality for price as many fine Burgundy, and I would just consider this wine if you get a chance to visit Germany… There are a few other producers that you might find that are worth trying for quality German Pinot, like Becker and August Kesseler.

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 8

Grapelive Daily Pick
By KerryWinslow

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rochioli07sp.gif2007 Rochioli Pinot Noir “Special Cuvee” Russian River Valley (California).
One of the most famous Pinot Noir houses in California, Rochioli continues to make some of the finest examples from this wonderful grape. I must admit lots of bias here, straight up, I love these wines and am on the fabled “Rochioli Mailing List” and hope to be on it for the rest of my life! It took seven long years to get a spot on the customer list at Rochioli and many, many long drives to their tasting room on Westside Road, near the lovely small town of Healdsburg, on the Russian River in North Sonoma County, to get my two bottle limit when new releases came available. This year I was able to get six bottles of the “Special Cuvee” a small extra lot of Pinot from select barrels, which could be from left over from the regular estate and or the single block wines, it doesn’t matter, even if these were the odds and ends I would never think twice about taking whatever I could get my hands on, and I feel lucky even more now after tasting the 2007 edition. This vintage is perfumed, bright and well put together, with full flavors and great balance, in other words it is just damn good! This pure Pinot Noir is elegant and lush with lots of fruit that includes layers of black cherry, plum, raspberry and spicy boysenberry. More than that it shows wild flowers, tea spice, cola, a briar note, and subtle smoky sweet oak shadings. This is a very fine Pinot Noir that is still tight and fresh, but still has smooth textures and it does open up with air, so drink now and for the next few years. Okay, it is going to be very hard to find and by now the winery and tasting is sold out, but it still is worth a look, and I would suggest you sign up to get on their mailing list, with this economy you just might to be able to get bumped up more quickly than I did. *Because it is hard to find I took 2 rating points of my tasting notes… ($38-65 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 7

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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stolpmansangio.gif2005 Stolpman Sangiovese Estate Santa Ynez Valley (California).
Wow, I must say this rich and balanced wine really surprised me with flavors and style that makes me think of a Tuscan village in bathed in warm sunlight and my mouth water for some aged Pecorino cheese! Usually I find while nice and sometimes interesting, California Sangiovese does not live up to expectations or taste like the Tuscan version, but in this case I could honestly be fooled I think and I really enjoyed this vintage very much. Stolpman grow some good grapes, with Syrah being one of their best, and their own wines from the estate are very impressive, with past vintages of Hilltop Estate Syrah being one of my favorites, and now I’ll add this wine to my list as well. This 2005 Sangiovese just might have gained from having a few years in bottle to develop, as I know I have had Stolpman Sangiovese releases in the past and none sang to me like this vintage did. It has all the right stuff at the moment, it is long, silky and focused, in fact I think it is near perfect as it is, with lots of cherry, raspberry, plum and strawberry fruit on the palate after a nose of sweet dried flowers and herbs, wood and fresh berries. The mouth is lush, but still has bright tangy freshness that keeps everything lively and the finish lingers on and on with subtle oak notes and fruit sweetness. I would like to mention that I would be bigger fan of these lovely wine if it were a bit cheaper and my score reflects that too, I think at $25 I would have added at least 2 more points! ($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 6

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Madeleine

2007 Madeleine “Chapitre III – Retour En Vallee Des Rois” Cabernet Franc, California.Damien Georis, ex-Bordeaux winemaker, is a gifted talent that has found a home in Carmel Valley (Monterey Peninsula, CA) and is hand-crafting some wonderful wines under his own Madeleine label, as well as being the head winemaker for Georis Winery, (no relation)in Carmel Valley. He created a stir a few years back when his premier release hit the local market here, no one had thought a pure and Loire style Cabernet Franc could be this good and it sold out very quickly. Then he turned to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in his second release, as he couldn’t source any Franc that could give him what he wanted, but now it is back and his label proclaims (in French) a return of the “Valley of Kings” for his third release (Chapter 3) and it is a royal wine indeed! This vintage is much riper and much more powerful than the last 2 or 3 so this wine is much, much bigger and intense than Damien’s earlier wines. The 2007 Madeleine is more like a Napa or Bordeaux wine than the Loire Valley, (since this vintage is 90 % Napa Valley fruit) with rich and thick fruit and heavy texture, but it still shows the class and balance that are his trademark. This Cabernet Franc shows bold red berry, plum and black cherry fruit on the palate with hints of dried flowers, peppery spices, cassis, mocha and sweet oak notes. This wine is young and full-bodied, almost Port-like, but it does open up and turns elegant and deep. That said, I’d give it a short term in the cellar or enjoy its bold youth with steak or lamb. This is a very impressive effort! ($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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www.madeleinewine.com

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 5

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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Tardieu Laurent Saint Joseph Rhone Red2006 Tardieu-Laurent Saint-Joseph Vieilles Vignes Rhone Red.
This cuvee of old vine Syrah is super ripe and full-bodied with sweet fruit and lush textured mouth-feel. This wine is very modern in style and very clean with black and blue berry on the palate with hints of prunes, cherry liqueur, cassis and bitter chocolate. The color is very dark and will stain your teeth and coat your mouth with ripe tannins, but everything is smooth sailing and the finish is very lengthy with hints of coffee bean and caramel. Once the wine gets air it comes to life with violets, mineral, graphite and brighter fruit notes, in other words the wine is wound up, young and backwards still, so you might want to short term cellar this thing for a few more years, though if you like a thick monster Syrah that is more Australian in style, drink it up now! I left it open two days and liked it much better the third day and think it has a bit of a reward for those that put it down for a few years. ($55 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 4

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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Alban Vineyards Estate Viognier2007 Alban Vineyards Viognier Estate, Edna Valley.
John Alban, one of the original Rhone Rangers, is one of the best grower/producers in the world, and has found his perfect niche making Rhone style wines that showcase his terroir, but yet have the best bits of the old world and new world melted in. His Viognier is on par with its French counterparts from Condrieu, well, it is in fact better than most to be honest, and Condrieu is like what Montrachet is to Burgundy, in the Northern Rhone region of France. While known for his powerful and exotic Syrah wines, which often get 100 point scores and are as hard to get as Grand Cru Burgundy, he also does some of the best white wines in California, and this estate Viognier is among my favorite wines, no question. The 2007 vintage was everything you’d ever hope for in a growing season and this Viognier made great use of the near perfect conditions with amazing perfume, depth, feel and life, making for a wine that not only has rich fruit, but has sublime balance and class as well. The nose is full of fresh honeysuckle, mineral spices, citrus flower and ripe white peaches, before a full and intense mouthful of apricot, peach pit, pear, tropical fruits and a slight hint of apple. This is a thick white, though it shows clean acidity and vigorous structure and while packed with fruit it remains elegant and nicely dry. The texture is stunningly layered and has a butter cream feel with out being overly heavy or fat, and the finish is long and tangy with just a touch of sweet spice and smoke that lingers with some nectarine essence. ($50 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Alban Vineyards

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 3

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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miura07.gif2007 Miura Pinot Noir “Pisoni Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.

Emmanuel Kemiji’s Miura label has been a supporter and believer in the Pisoni Vineyard since the beginning and has been making top Pinot Noir from this “Grand Cru” site since the amazing first release in 1999, and since then has never failed to impress! Emmanuel has even picked out his favorite blocks of vines in the vineyard from which his uses in this wine and then lets the terroir make the wine, his own stamp on the wine is to let nature do the talking, and I can say it is bragging big time in this vintage. Miura Pinot Noir is always pure, elegant and sleek with no stone unturned in the pursuit of quality. The 2007 Pisoni is a rich and beautiful wine that shows depth, refinement and class with powerful fruit and stunning length. This is a wine that can and will be cellared for many years with stuffing and structure to last, it was made with lots of whole cluster fermentation which gives more flavors and tannins. The nose is ripe with exotic fruits and flowers, sweet and spicy, before a huge palate of plum, blackberry, currants and dark cherry with flashes of lavender, gun powder, rose oil and lovely French oak spiced vanilla. There is some earthiness and fresh acidity that give added character way in the background, but it is showing its sexy youth mostly right now, making it hard to keep your hands of it! ($65 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive

***This wine was just released, but is pretty rare and found mostly in restaurants. Ask your local wine merchant to get it, or order it online at: Rancho Cellars

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 2

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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Nikolaihof Riesling2008 Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau, Austria
Nikolaihof is one of the best wineries, period, and they show total commitment to quality and are totally Bio-Dymanic. This is an artist’s wine and for the wine geek or thinking man’s wine, much like Burgundy is. Their small estate hangs on steep hillsides in the Wachau region not far from the beautiful Danube River, west of Vienna. The wines from this estate are pure and complex, all hand-crafted and intense, I would rank them in my personal top ten white wine producers. I’ve tasted quite a few vintages and always find them stunning and intriguing, they always show a certain power and life, though always beautifully balanced and subtle. This vintage is full of youth and brightness, but there is depth and it should age wonderfully. The nose is full of white flowers, lime leaves, verbena and a whiff of petrol, before a zesty palate of white peach, apricot, citrus and green apple all of which flow together in pretty layers. The body is still tight and structured, but it does open up and give a mouth coating fullness, liquid mineral essence and tangy spices, steel, and a lifting lime citrus all come on the finish. This is a very impressive wine, sadly it is also one that is very hard to find and harder even to get people to try or understand. Also, it should be considered a Premier Cru and the price reflects that, but it is worth it, it really is. ($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 1

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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Domaine Chante-Perdrix2006 Domaine Chante-Perdrix Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone Red, France.
With all the amazing press and hype over the 2007 vintage in the southern Rhone Valley, there are a lot of wonderful wines slipping under the radar, or just plain forgotten and dumped out, which is a shame. That said, the 2006 Chante-Perdrix is not a wine to be missed or skipped, it is a complex and rich Chateauneuf that drinks great and has plenty of depth and body to impress anyone, even if they long for the 2007 high scoring wines. This vintage opens up with an earthy gamey nose that quickly turns wildflowers and spices before packing a punch of fruit on the palate with plum, cherry, blackberry all playing a part in the mouth. There is hints of pepper, lavender, grenadine, chalk, kirsch, bitter chocolate and a savory meatiness that add to the mystery and complexities in this fantastic Chateauneuf example. This might be the wine to drink over the next 3-5 years, especially if you are waiting for the 2007 Chateauneuf(s) to develop in your cellar! ($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Nov. 30

Grapelive Daily Review

By Kerry Winslow

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seasmoke07s.gif2007 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir “Southing” Santa Rita Hills, Estate.
Sea Smoke looks to find its style now, without Kris Curran and the 2007 vintage does mark a big difference, Curran’s big up front wines are sure to get more attention, but this Pinot is much more subtle and lower in alcohol. It is hard to tell if maybe this vintage is better than earlier efforts, but it is more balanced and refined, and it is a much more fresh than the 2006 was, for sure. In time the Southing might fill out and get more interesting, though it is nice and complete now, so I’d put it away for another year or so. At this point, drink the much richer and complex 2004 and 2005 Sea Smokes if you still have any! The 2007 Sea Smoke Southing shows pretty fruit, leaning on red cherry, raspberry, cranberry and tart plum, all silky on the palate, with Asian spices, hints of tomato compote, cola, and lush vanilla. This wine seems to have everything to become a very fine wine, good fruit, acidity, smooth body and very nice smoky sweet oak shadings, it just doesn’t show the “Wow” factor, though it might just surprise given enough time to develop, we’ll have to wait and see. ($50-120 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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