Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 2, 2021

2017 Tenuta Tascante, Contrada Rampante, Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
The 2017 Tenuta Tascante Contrada Rampante is warmly ripe and spicy, highlighting the year’s heat and the terroir influence here in Mount Etna with its lava and basalt based soils and the elevation allowing a depth and finesse here that is very alluring and enjoyable. The fruit concentration is pure and lush here with a silky medium/full bodied palate of brambly raspberry, racy cherry, wild plum and candied orange rind, dried red peppers, anise, crushed stones, Thai basil and delicate floral notes. Made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, the most noble of Mount Etna’s varietals, with all the grapes being grown sustainably and the vines are hand tended, with the Contada Rampante being planted in 2000 and just entering full maturity. This Cru bottling by the Tasca family and Tenuta Tascante was crafted by Stefano Masciarelli, the winemaker here using all de-stemmed grapes and fermented in tank with a selected yeast with a gentle and cool maceration to promote clarity and give the wine a less rustic or earthy personality. This ruby/garnet hued wine is very polished and smooth, it is delicious effort that will certainly appeal to newcomers to this region’s wines.

Mount Etna, which is Europe’s largest active volcano, is the Island’s most significant landmark, it is located on the eastern side of Sicily and is home to some of Italy’s best terroir driven and nuanced wines. The Contrada Rampante (Cru) single vineyard is located in Sicilies Castiglione di Sicilia, between Passopisciaro and Randazzo, in maybe the Volcano’s best grape growing zone, on the Northern side of Mount Etna, where the vines see cooler conditions and the grapes show a finer balance and complexity, it’s why these wines are nicknamed the Burgundy of the south or Sicily. This vineyard that has large dry-stone wall terraces at an average slope of 4.7% with soils that were formed between 4,000 – 15,000 years ago, the Etna DOC is divided into 132 Contrade, or wine districts, with each Contrada being characterized by its soil components and the age of the lava underpinning of each site. Masciarelli did his best here to make this wine appealing to a wide range of wine lovers, but to also wanted it to be expressive with a sense of place, and to achieve this he aged this Contrada Rampante in large Slavonian oak casks for a full 12 months and kept it in bottle for another year in the cellar before release. There’s a lot to like here and this wine is a great way to start exploring the wines of Mount Etna, with this wine’s poise and polish makes it easy to love, especially with Sicilian inspired cuisine and or hard cheeses.
($45 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 1, 2022

2001 Chateau Charmail, Cru Bougeois, Haut-Medoc, Red Bordeaux, France.
The Chateau Charmail is an old estate that dates back to the later have of 17th century and is located in the Haut-Medoc region on the Left Bank of Bordeaux’s famous the Gironde river and is planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a small quantity of Petit Verdot. The soils here are largely made up of classic gravel and clay that most common on this side on the river, which along with the mild climate, are perfectly suited to grape growing, allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to get fully ripe and structured as shows in this beautifully drinking 2001 vintage. Opening this 20 year Bordeaux, which is more of a value, rather than a prestigious growth, brought the best kind of surprise in that is impeccably cellared and had a perfect cork and fill as well as being wonderfully fresh and fleshy with a classic nose of mulberry, creme de cassis, cedar, pencil lead, subtle floral notes and loamy earth leading to medium/full bodied palate of blackberry, dark currant, kirsch and plum fruits that are accented by tobacco leaf, black olive, graphite, anise and a touch of vanilla. Things just kept getting better and better as it opened gaining some nice secondary character with a fine mineral elegance emerging and the vintage’s purity and lift really shines through, it lingers on and on, making for an impressive performance for a wine that mostly was drunk young, delivering pleasure way beyond its price, both new and now.

This 2001 Chateau Charmail was made up of a blend of close to 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, plus I believe a tiny fraction of Petit Verdot, which Charmail has planted more of in recent years, along with a bit more Cabernet, that is always clearly present in the profile regardless of percentage in the final blend of the property’s Grand Vin. The soil types here in the Haut-Medoc consist mainly of gravel and clay, along with sand and colluvial sediments. This combination, the winery suggests, is what gives Charmail wines their balance and distinctive qualities, with wines having a subtle elegance from the stones, a sense power and concentration from the clay, which also gives richness to the body, especially with Merlot. Chateau Charmail has moved towards sustainable farming and has refined its techniques over the years, according the winery, to get the best out of their vines and now everything is hand tended and picked, then after the sorting table, where only the best grapes are selected, the fruit is handled in a very gentle manner and by gravity only, so that no pumps or screws damage the grapes as they are fed into the tanks for a slow and cold maceration and fermentation. cold skin contact, developed on the estate, serves to extract from the grape skins all the components that will ensure an optimal tannic structure in the wines. The aging on this Haut-Medoc lasts 12 months in barrels, all of which are, of course, French oak, but with only one third of which are new. I’ve always been a fan of 2001s and this Charmail certainly confirms my views and made for a compelling experience.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 31, 2021

2016 Le Pianelle, Bramaterra DOC, Alto Piedmonte, Italy.
The incredible and well structured Le Pianelle Bramaterra DOC rosso is a traditional blend of 80% Nebbiolo, also known locally as Spanna, along with other native varietals of which are 10% Vespolina and 10% Croatina from this northern part of Pidmonte that is more alpine and set on volcanic based Porphyritic sand and ancient glacial deposits with red/orange soils, which has given this terroir driven wine its gripping personality and inner beauty. The Bramaterra zone is sandwiched between Lessona to the west and Gattinara to the southeast in the Alto Piedmonte area, one of the hot spots in the wine world, where Nebbiolo has long been the main grape like the famous Barbaresco and Barolo that sit almost directly below, closer to Asti and Alba. Winemaker Cristiano Garella, who has been a head winemaker since he was just 21 years old, has crafted an amazing wine with this 2016 vintage, while still youthfully tannic and taut, there is no doubt this is one of the best wines in the region and there’s a huge potential for this wine in the years or decades to come. There’s stunning depth, concentration and complexity that is already completely seductive on the full bodied palate with classic Nebbiolo power and energy, it delivers iron rich mineral tones behind a core of red fruits, that are accented by spice, earth and herbal notes, making for a dark sultry and slightly rustic wine. With air this Bramaterra comes alive fully in a way that reminds you of a leopard with a feline muscular way that impresses the senses with finely coiled tension, it shows brandied cherries, damson plum, briar laced raspberry and red currant fruits, a touch of sanguine and leather, weather hard wood, truffle, anise, wilted rose petals and orange rind. Each sip revealed a new dimension and while not cheap, this wine is an outstanding value and will reward Nebbiolo fans greatly.

The Nebbiolo grape is, as Garella explains, is the foundation and soul of his flagship Bramaterra DOC, and it is complemented by the Croatina and Vespolina that both lift the flavors and heighten the aromatics in the wine. For the production of this Alto Piedmonte red Garella uses grapes are harvested exclusively by hand, with each grape variety and vineyard parcels being fermented in separate small lots with maceration and fermentation in open top Grenier oak vats. After primary fermentation is complete the young wine is racked to wood and matured for 18 months in a combination of used small French barrique barrels as well as large Austrian made Stockinger oak barrels. The Le Pianelle Bramaterra is kept in the cellar in bottle for an extra 24 months before its being release, to be more supple and mature when it is offered out. I had not had this producer before, but now I’m a hyper aware fan that looks forward to trying older and newer releases from Cristiano, such was the experience tasting this fine effort. Lepianelle was founded in 2002 by the German national Dieter Heuskel, who was a huge fan of Piedmonte area and its wines, when the opportunity and challenge of rejuvenating a long-forgotten vineyard was presented to him and his partner, the well respected Alto Adige producer Peter Dipoli of Voglar, and now with the youthful and gifted Cristiano Garella, a native to the region who had Nebbiolo in his blood, they have created, along with an impressive vineyard team, a truly world class wine estate. I am going to try and get a few bottles of this 2016, as well as see if I can find some 2013, of this brilliant wine, it maybe best to put them in the cellar for a few more years, but it will be hard not open them at the earliest opportunity, especially with a hearty meal that will allow the best features shine through. As of now, Le Pianelle offers three wines, two reds, that includes this glorious dark ruby hued and brick edged Bramaterra DOC and a Rosato (Rosé) and the production is rather limited, so you’ll have to chase these down, but it is well worth it!
($50 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 30, 2021

2019 Domaine de la Grand’Cour – Jean-Louis Dutraive – Fleurie, Lieu-Dit Champagne, Cuvée Vieilles Vignes, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The 2019 Dutraive old vine Lieu-Dit Champagne Fleurie is beautifully perfumed, textural and vibrant with a lighter frame, but with superb depth and length showing a slightly cloudy ruby color, heightened floral aromatics and smooth medium bodied palate of strawberry, crushed raspberry, tree picked plum and tart cherry fruits as well as snappy herbs, wilted roses, cinnamon, a hint of fennel and a touch of sandalwood. This is a stunning effort with graceful layering and vitality, confirming the joys of expectations and the talents of the Dutraive family, led by the famed Jean-Louis Dutraive and the emerging gifted touch of his son Justin, who has made quite a name for himself in recent years with his own signature lineup of offerings. Justin Dutraive is part of a growing list of new generation winemakers here in Beaujolais that are leading the region to new levels of quality, especially noteworthy are the likes of Yohan Lardy, Anne-Sophie Dubois, Julien Sunier, Mathieu & Camille Lapierre, Alex Foillard and Charly Thenevet, who like Dutraive is transitioning into the head winemaking role with his family’s property. This historic Domaine de la Grand’Cour does an excellent and world class set of Gamay from their legendary Fleurie parcels, including their flagship Chapelle des Bois and this special Lieu-Dit Champagne plot, which sits on shallow sandy soils over the veins of granite and has mainly fifty plus year old vines. This fresh and wildly delicious 2019 old vine cuvée was naturally and traditionally fermented in cement and then raised for eight months in neutral French oak barriques, making it a wine of rustic charm, but with brilliant clarity of character, this is wonderful stuff and I highly recommend you grab any and all of Dutraive’s Fleurie bottlings!

The Domaine de la Grand’Cour was originally established in back in 1969, according to the winery, in a Summer of love, and the Domaine de la Grand’Cour best holdings are in the Cru Fleurie zone, in what can be considered Grand Cru sites, these consist of three special lieu-dits, the Clos de la Grand’Cour, a Monopole walled vineyard, the mentioned Chapelle des Bois and their Champagne parcel, where this wine came from. These granite soiled sites are some of the most coveted in the region, all of Dutraive’s vines are holistically farmed following methods inspired by the godfather of Beaujolais’ natural winemaking revolution, Jules Chauvet, who inspired the likes of Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thevenet and Guy Breton to name a few. Jean-Louis Dutraive, the fifth generation to run this old estate, has exclusively used organic grapes since the 1980s and does most all of his Cru bottlings with 100% whole cluster, which gives these Gamays their glorious complexity, distinction and exotic personalities. The Dutraive ferments naturally with indigenous yeasts, whole bunch, getting a semi carbonic effect and they see long maceration(s) on the skins, somewhere close to a month, which according to the winery, depends on what the vintage gives them. The wines are very gently handled from start to finish and moved only by gravity flow in the cellar, with the Crus being aged for 9 months to more than a year, depending on the individual cuvée. There is a combination of vessels for elevage, mostly though see time in used Burgundy barrels, though sometimes the wines are aged partially in stainless, old foudre, or even cement tanks depending, again, on the vintage. Jean-Louis’ motto in the cellar is what he calls “minimal intervention and maximum surveillance.” All of the efforts in the cellar are to highlight and promote transparency, purity and terroir, which clearly is on full display here, again these wines are most haves for Gamay enthusiasts.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 29, 2021

2019 Turley Wine Cellars, The White Coat, White Wine, California.
The Turley White Coat is a strikingly lush and opulent white wine, hand crafted by winemaker Tegan Passalacqua from predominantly Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino, a similar combination to some famous Chateauneuf du Pape Blancs with this 2019 version being an exceptional full bodied wine that shows the vintage’s vibrant fruit intensity and underlying balance with an impactful presence in the glass. In classic Roussanne fashion this White Coat shows thick layers of apricot, lemon, clove spice, ginger, star anise, peach pit, marzipan and almond oil along with some zesty tangerine/citrus, melon, apple and salty wet stones that highlight the addition of the Grenache Blanc and Vermentino in this impressive Turley offering. There is a nice play between all the elements here with the wine giving the impression of oily vinous depth on the lavish palate, but has well judged acidity that adds a brilliant pop to this wine and there is a savory bacon like note that comes through that contrasts well with the richness of fruit. Passalacqua notes that this wine saw an all native yeast fermentation, with mainly neutral French oak aging, but with about quarter of the wine being fermented and raised in concrete eggs, which he started with the previous vintage and looks to continue as the results have been incredibly compelling, especially in this 2019, which is by far the best White Coat I’ve tried.

The White Coat’s blend has changed over the years, but I think Turley has found the perfect combination of varietals now to make a luminous and luxurious Chateauneuf style California wine. The White Coat, which is named for, as the winery notes, Larry Turley’s past career as an Emergency Room physician and is composed mainly of classic white Rhône grapes from three of theirs Estate vineyards and terroirs stretching through multiple regions of California. The rich and textured body is from the Roussanne, which is the dominate grape, sourced from the Rattlesnake Ridge Vineyard on Howell Mountain on the volcanic based soils in Napa Valley. The density here is, as Turley suggests, moderated by the fresh acidity and structure provided by the inclusion of Grenache Blanc that is grown in the calcareous soils of the Pesenti Vineyard in Paso Robles. The golden hued White Coat blend is rounded out with a touch of zesty mineral intense Vermentino (also known as Rolle in parts of France) sourced from the granitic and quartz-laden Cobb Vineyard in the Amador County, in the Sierra Foothills, plus in certain years there is a splash of Verdejo too, making this wine even more uniquely Californian. The White Coat, which was saw 15 months of barrel time is a wine that deserves your attention and a wine that would be sublime with lobster and or grilled swordfish, and while Turley is known mostly for their famed Zinfandel and Petite Sirah bottlings, this is not a wine to be overlooked!
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 28, 2021

2019 Drew, Pinot Noir, Wendling Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
The dark garnet and ruby colored 2019 Wendling Vineyard Pinot from Jason Drew was fermented using 100% indigenous yeasts and with 45% whole cluster with a gentle and natural maceration period to extract a deep color and complexity of flavors before being aged just under a year in mostly used French oak with Jason choosing to employ about 25% new wood in this vintage, giving the finished wine incredible transparency and purity. The results here, are as we’ve come to expect from Drew, but no less short of stunning with this Wendling Pinot, showing pure class in the glass, it is a gorgeous Pinot Noir with exceptional texture, depth and nuance, it delivers classic black cherry, currant, raspberry and plum fruits along with mineral tones, subtle chanterelles, blood orange, sandalwood, baking spices and a touch of fennel. With time and air gets the floral aromatics going and the medium body begins to push some a supple roundness as well as letting some pomegranate and an earthy/savory element, making for a complex and poised young wine that does everything with poise and clarity. This is maybe a wine I should have left in the cellar, but it is pretty darn good, with the potential to get even better in 3 to 5 years, best to have it over a slow meal, where it can be allowed to reveal its full potential.

The Wendling Vineyard, which winemaker Jason Drew regards as one of the top sites within the region and says it holds the distinction as the most north westerly site in the Anderson Valley appellation and is considers it one of Grand Cru vineyards. This cool vineyard sits in the deepest end of the valley on a 450 ft slope with excellent drainage, additionally, Drew explains there are three soil types, namely Ornbaun, Wolfey and Bearwallow complexes here that gives the grapes an extra degree of complexity. Continuing his praise of the Wendling Vineyard he adds that these well drained hillside soils along with the cooler coastal temperatures provide for low to moderate yields, giving the wines a darker color and making for intensely structured Pinot Noirs that really thrive in the cellar. This fairly young site, being 12 years old was planted to several exciting suitcase selections and Dijon clones with Drew using sections that include an alleged DRC (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) and a La Tache clone. Regardless of origin of the plant material, this vineyard’s grapes have produced some profound Pinots hand crafted by Drew over the last half dozen years or so and this 2019, with its very refined Burgundy like 13% natural alcohol and nice lifting acidity, is one of the best yet. Again, as I’ve said before, it is hard to see many producers achieving the level of greatness you are seeing here with Drew, especially their lineup of 2018 and 2019 Pinots!
($70 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 27, 2021

2020 Stars & Dust, Rosé of Grenache, Tierra Alta Vineyard, Ballard Canyon AVA, Santa Ynez Valley.
California has another world class Dry Rosé to chase down, but sadly Nikki Pallesen of Stars & Dust only made 80 cases of this fabulous and brilliantly detailed Tierra Alta Vineyard Rosé of Grenache from the Santa Ynez Valley’s Ballard Canyon AVA, just north of Santa Barbara, it is has a wonderful mouth feel, layered with electric flavors and is mouth watering crisp, this like Pallesen’s sister Mourvedre version is excellent stuff. Bright and glowing in glass this Tierra Alta Grenache Rosé has a rotation of orange pith, grapefruit, strawberry and sour Bing cherry fruits on the mineral/steely palate along with rosewater, citrus bloom, faint herbs, wet stones and energetic acidity, making for very Provence style bone dry Pink that is drinking exceptionally well and should do for another couple of years, if you could ever wait, which there is no reason to do. There is enough presence, impact and structure here to be a serious contender for Rosé of the year and it has enough textural roundness to please a wide range of wine drinkers and it goes great with food too impressively, I recommend keeping an eye out for this one and get on the Stars & Dust list for the next release. Also interesting, is Pallesen’s new Grenache based red wine, which has been playfully nicknamed “Grenjolais” which I plan on trying out soon, it is said to a friendly quaffer with a light body and low alcohol, that suggests it would be great with a slight chill.

Nikki Pallesen’s, formerly of Liquid Farm, new Stars & Dust Winery is just launching with a set of Rosé bottlings, this one made from 100% Grenache and one that I reviewed earlier which is crafted from 100% Mourvédre, that is more Bandol like in presence and character. She is also focusing on Chardonnay and has got some intriguing things coming out, which I’m sure are going to be wines to search out. This version, 100% Grenache, was whole cluster pressed, non saignée and saw a short maceration to achieve the fresh detail and gentle extraction of its light pink color with a cool stainless steel fermentation before an elevage in neutral French oak barrels for six months. There is plenty of ripeness and extract to provide complexity and pleasure here and as this wine turns on the charm with some air, much the same as Pallesen’s Mourvedre did in the glass. A lot of attention to detail went into the Stars & Dust wines from the impeccable handling of the grapes from vines to bottle to the stylish Klimt inspired artwork label (super packaging) on these Rosé bottlings, reflecting the personality behind them, I can see Stars & Dust developing a cult following for the quality of the Rosé, joining the likes of Arnot-Roberts (Touriga Nacional Rosé), Randall Grahm’s Language of Yes (Tibouren/Cinsault Rosé), Martha Stoumen (Nergoamaro Rosé), Jolie-Laide (Rosé of Cabernet Pfeffer), Tribute to Grace (also a Grenache Rosé and Bedrock Wine Co (Ode to Lulu, Mourvedre based Rosé) to name a few awesome year round Rosés. I am looking forward to Pallesen’s upcoming Stars & Dust Chards, that are getting released soon, especially the Old Vine Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay, this is a label to watch.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 26, 2021

2019 Lioco, Carignan/Valdiguié “Indica” Red Blend, Mendocino County.
Lioco’s Indica Red, made from old vines in Mendocino is a juicy blend of 93% Carignan and 7% Valdiguié that shows a lively freshness and supple texture with a comforting array of dark red fruits, it was an excellent quaffer with a nice spicy note, light florals and lingering blueberries. This dry, but fruity red has a creamy round mouth feel that makes it easy to enjoy all on its own as well as with simple foods with layers of crushed blackberries, plum, cherry and tangy currant fruits that are very engaging on the medium/full palate and lifted by touches of cinnamon, sage, garden herbs and anise. This Indica Red saw fermentation in a mix of open-top tanks with gentle punch downs and with a submerged cap to enhance a soft extraction of structural elements, flavors and pigment, allowing the Indica to display its smoothness as well as transparent details, it was raised for about seven months mainly in well used and neutral French oak barrels, larger puncheons and along with stainless steel. Carignan, one of the Chateauneuf grapes, has seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years and the quality of these wines is exceptional and Lioco’s is delicious stuff, it joins a fun group of releases like those by Desire Lines, Martha Stoumen, Ridge Vineyards, Sandlands and others that I am very impressed with.

One of California’s new generation of wineries, Lioco, owned by the husband and wife duo of Matt and Sara Licklider, they focus on natural style wines from cool climate sites, mostly extreme coastal ones in western Sonoma (Coast), Mendocino and the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a special focus on cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a set of Carignan based wines, one Rosé, the pure 100% Carignan Sativa and this “Indica” version, which has a small dose of Valdiguié included. Matt Licklider and winemaker Kai Kliegl use the mature organic Carignan vines at the McCutchen Ranch & Bartolomei Vineyards in Mendocino set on rocky well drained soils with a red clay and loamy underpinnings to make this wine with the Valdiguié being sourced from the 50 year old Lolonis Vineyard. One theme that continues throughout the Lioco range of wines is energy and crispness of detail, this is expressed especially vividly in their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, the Estero Russian River Chardonnay, the Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Dijon clone Laguna Pinot from the Sonoma Coast and their very appealing La Marisma Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, all of which I highly recommend. This dark ruby and magenta 2019 Indica really hit the spot and it perfectly captures the vintage in the bottle with solid fruit density and natural acidity, what’s not to love here?
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 25, 2021- Merry Christmas

2019 Domaine Yohan Lardy, Moulin à Vent, Vieilles Vignes de 1903, Cru Beaujolais, France.
An absolutely stunning effort from Yohan Lady and his old vine parcels in the Moulin à Vent, this 2019 Vieilles Vignes de 1903 is as pure as Gamay gets, but has the class, textural pleasure and the perfumed aromatics of a top Chambolle-Musigny, I cannot believe how good this bottle is and even more unbelievable is how I’ve missed this wine and producer until now! My first ever experience with a Cru Beaujolais that I can remember was a Diochon Moulin à Vent and it set me on a path to become a Gamay geek and enthusiast, but this Lardy Vieilles Vignes de 1903 is on another level, it is by far the best thing I’ve ever tried from this zone and rivals my preferred Morgan and Fleurie favorites, consider me impressed. The nose is heavenly with crushed violets and rosewater lifting from the glass along with a touch of spice and dark berries that lead to a satiny medium to full bodied palate of red currants, plum, cherry and strawberry fruits accented nicely by hints of wild herbs, crushed stones, subtle damp earth, anise and dark walnut. This new generation of Cru Beaujolais producers are taking these wines to the next level and Lardy the younger is one of the stars, with this Moulin à Vent Vieilles Vignes de 1903 being an outrageously seductive Gamay, with energy, length and grace, I’m going to have to get more of this and I suggest Gamay fans do too.

Those, like myself, that follow Lapierre, Foillard, Dutraive, Thevenet, Dubois and Sunier to name a few, will instantly recognize the quality here, Yohan Lardy is the fifth generation of the Lardy family to make wine in the Beaujolais, but his 2012s were the first releases under his own label. He, as the top winemakers in the region do, farms his vines organically, plowing in between the rows and in the cellar has followed the local natural winemaking traditions of the famed Jules Chauvet, who led a revolution away from industrial farming and back to old school methods and who inspired the likes of Marcel Lapierre and Jean Foillard, as well as countless others. This terroir driven micro-cuvée, the winery says, comes from ancient 114 year old Gamay vines planted up at 300 meters elevation and set on granite, quartz and manganese based soils. The youthful Lardy employs a full whole-cluster semi carbonic fermentation that he allows to begin spontaneously in concrete or polyethylene tanks and it typically lasts up to three weeks. Per normal by the top guys here, there is no SO2 is added during maceration and the fermentation process here with Yohan applying a gentle touch throughout, looking for terroir transparency in his wines. He then ages his Cru wines in old Burgundy barrels for 8-12 months before bottling, which is done without filtration, it is very much a passion and respect for place that shines through in these wines, especially this gorgeous old vine Moulin à Vent. I’m so glad I was able to try and reflect on this wine, it was a perfect way to celebrate the holy eve, Joyeux Noël.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 24, 2021

2020 Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
The latest Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone, 100% Syrah, is an all tank aged and partial whole cluster wine with a deep purple color and far more complexity than you’d expect from a bottle in this price range with layers of blackberry, boysenberry, plum and blueberry fruits along with hints of earth, graphite, black licorice, dried herbs and crushed flowers in a beautifully smooth and textured full bodied wine. This vintage, which is Louis Barruol’s 24nd vintage of this juicy Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône is very polished and pleasing with just enough savory crunch to keep things interesting and this edition is an easy companion with a variety of foods and was perfect with a chilly rainy night outside, it provided lots of comfort without any pretense. Being all Syrah it feels a bit more rustic and dense than most Grenache based versions, but you can see the family relationship with Barruol’s famous Gigondas and other classic Rhone bottlings with its warm and Mediterranean personality, this is always a great wine and sublime value. This supple Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone which adds a touch of creme de cassis with air, had a very short vatting period, in cement, a technique pioneered by Louis Barruol’s father, as he notes, in fact, in the 1970s and 1980s, Saint Cosme’s Gigondas only spent about 15 days in vats! This is the allow really fresh details, fruitiness and freshness to express themselves, while still having structure to age, proof is the success of these absolutely delicious wines.

Louis Barruol’s Chateau de Saint Cosme, located north to the village of Gigondas, which he is most famous for, is the oldest estate in the region being on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman villa which dates back to 1416 and very probably it already had its own vineyard as well as cellars carved from the natural limestone walls, with the Barruol family acquiring it back in 1570 and making it, in my opinion, one the Rhone’s greatest estates. The fabulous basic Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone is made from 100% Syrah coming from what Barruol calls top vineyard parcels, saying he is no magician, knowing only great sites made great wines and mostly this little beauty uses plots in Vinsobres, which is a special area of the southern Rhone that is sublimely suited to Syrah. The Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone vines are set on mostly limestone sand, red clay and pebbles on Villafranchian terraces that gives this remarkably expression its stylistic charm, density and class, with Barruol noting he thinks Vinsobres is the best area to grow Syrah in this area, which is just to the north of Gigondas and influenced by cool alpine winds that help refresh the vines, giving ripe fruit, but with energy of natural acidity. For this particular wine, which Barruol says, is very similar to the 2019 – with fruit that was ripe and absolutely stunning coming off the vines, giving the resultant wine lush black fruit, it is rounded and fleshy with a salinity that calls for a fine steak or something similar. Every year I get a bunch of Saint Cosme, of course their legendary Gigondas is a must, but I also grabs bottles of their Crozes-Hermitage, Sant-Joseph and lots of this Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge!
($15 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive