2002 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Vintage Champagne, France.
Taittiner’s Tete Cuvee the marvelous Comtes de Champagne has long been regarded as one of the finest bubblies, but over the last decade not much has been said about it or is it getting the acclaim it surly deserves, though I suspect this new release will turn a few heads. The 2002 Vintage of Comtes de Champagne is right up there with the best, I have had many legends from this marque including the 1985, 1988 and the 1990, and I rate this 2002 right up there, this is without question a stunning Champagne with amazing class, elegance and life. The nose has citrus blossom, toast, nuts, truffle and mineral notes leading to a lovely tension filled palate of apple, pear, hazelnut, lemon and brioche with a great balance of acidity and richness. Look for fantastic rewards in aging here and while it is magical now it is a classic that needs a decade in the cellar. Collectors should jump on this sparkler, I’d say for sure this will be cherished investment, maybe more so than 2010 Bordeaux would be… Regardless, this was a treat to taste and I am grateful to Taittinger for the experience.
($200 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($179)
2010 Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Santenay Vieilles Vignes “Ceps Centenaires” AC Red Burgundy, France.
No doubt at all, Pierre-Yves Colin is a star and while known for his fantastic White Burgundy wines, he makes a fine red too, especially this old vine Santenay which drives with passion and vigor. The nose is shy at first but bursts to live with a few swirls in the glass, bringing out roses and violets, smoke, minerals and red berry fruits leading to a darkly rich palate of raspberry, plum, cherry and cranberry fruits with a hint of blueberry and spicy oak notes. The is chalky minerals throughout, very much a wine of it’s terroir and flashes of earthy truffle and sweet mountains herbs add interest to this intense and vibrant Pinot Noir that has plenty of everything from fruit, subtle wood and acidity, making it a refined and focused wine to be greatly admired. This is a wonderful modern Burgundy that has all the charms of place, and really delivers the style with verve and grace. Sadly this is super rare, but can be found if you really look around.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($47.95)
2004 Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot, Chambolle-Musigny Red Burgundy.
This domaine really impresses me greatly and I think it is one of the sleepers year in and year out, especially their regular Bourgogne Rouge which is all from fruit sourced in the Vosne-Romanee area, so it was really fun to taste this Chambolle-Musigny from what is not a highly regarded vintage, and it shined with beauty and delicate details, very true to place and is drinking nice now. The 2004 Confuron Chambolle is bright and fresh still with a nose that hints at the vintage with dried roses, candied citrus and mineral spice while a tangy currant and red berry note rises leading to a soft and silky palate of cherry, spiced plum and apple skin with hints of orange tea, dried mushroom and more floral tones. This silky wine still has a few good years on it, but it’s silky elegance is very seductive now, wish I had a few bottles myself. Thanks to Beaune Imports for sharing this one at their recent San Francisco portfolio tasting, I am grateful for the experience and reminds me to keep my eye on Confuron.
($75 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Sheldon Wines, Vinolocity Blanc, Sonoma Coast.
This wonderful white is one of my favorite wines, and this 2011 vintage is a stunner with intensity and vibrancy to go with exotic fruit layers and texture. This wine tends to be the sleeper in the lineup of wines made by Dylan and Tobe Sheldon at their “Micro-Winery” in Santa Rosa, but it just might be their top wine, even though I adore the Anderson Valley Pinot and their signature Grenache wines. The Vinolocity Blanc is made up of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier and is inspired by Chateauneuf-du-Pape whites, like Beaucastel, though it is truly a American artisan white with it’s own style and character. The nose has plenty of compelling allure with mineral tones, citrus fruit and blossoms, ginger snap and orange zest leading to a palate of cool stones, peach pit, apricot, tangerine and melon. There is a hint of pepper and salted butterscotch and with air the wine really fills out and offers dense richness in the mouth, but still lively and refreshing. This is a wine that is always changing moment to moment and it should evolve in beautiful ways over the next few years, and I look forward to following it if I can manage to save a few bottles.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine de la Cadette, Bourgogne Rouge “L’ Ermitage” France.
Here is a wonderful little wine that has quality, value and uniqueness from a region that is not usually so welcome to the exotic. Domaine de la Cadette’s L’ Ermitage Rouge cuvee is about 85% Pinot Noir and close to 15% Cesar, a very rare grape that has maybe Spanish origins and is a cross of Pinot Noir and Argant, which has roots in Spain and is grown in the Jura. Cesar is thought to have been brought to Burgundy by the Romans, and it has been native to Burgundy since ancient times and while a tannic grape it tends to blend well with Pinot Noir. Regardless of the blend and why, this wine is a beautiful and rich Burgundy that delivers lots of pleasure and texture. The nose is bright and floral with lots of peppery spices and dried flowers leading to a round and lush palate of raspberry, plum, cherry and strawberry fruits, hints of mineral, tea and red pepper spices add interest and the finish is lengthy. There is vibrant acidity and lots of life, but the overall feeling is of pure silk and balance. Touches of earth, licorice and beet root give subtle complexities to this very good Burgundy.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2011 The Red Hat, red (by Sheldon Wines)
This all new wine from Sheldon is a Petite Sirah from old vines grown on a small vineyard near Calistoga and is another intriguing take on this grape, making for a lively fresh style of wine with bright acidity and a medium body. While young and vibrant, it will gain fuller flavors with more bottle time, like all the Sheldon wines do and while I really like it now, it will be much more complex and deep in a year or so. Only a couple of barrels were produced, and this artisanal wine certainly will sell out fast, that is why I’m writing about it now, so people get a shot at it before it is gone. Dylan and Tobe Sheldon make lighter and lower alcohol wines, and they are always full of character and more subtle detail, and like many of the modern generation are committed to using neutral or used oak to let the fruit and acidity to shine through and this new The Red Hat is not your full throttle inky Petite Sirah, is is much more delicate and textured with red fruits and wild spices and herbs showing along with bitter coco, lavender and tangy candied citrus rind, plus hints of saline savory elements. With air this wine comes alive with blueberry, cranberry and black cherry fruit and lingers on the finish. Look forward to lots of added details to come forward over the next few years in bottle, it will be rewarding to watch this red develop.
($42 Est.) 91-92 Points, grapelive
2005 Brovia, Barolo DOCG “Ca’ Mia” Piedmonte, Italy.
Over the last three years, I’ve tasted many of the Brovia wines and I am always left with lots of admiration of their quality and structure, so it is nice to go back and taste an earlier vintage again especially these 2005 which were really tight and highly tannic on release. The “Ca’ Mia” the last time I tried it was fiercely tannin and involved so it was hard to gauge what was going to happen, but now (Nov. 2012) it seems to be opening up and beginning to show amazing potential and the inner core of flavors are fantastic, I wish I had a few bottles tucked away. The “Ca’ Mia” is my least favorite of the single vineyard Baroli that Brovia make, that said, maybe I have not had this one with proper age on it! This 2005 Brovia Ca’ Mia Barolo reveals dried violets and delicate rose petals, along with lavender oil, tea spices and truffle notes before dusty red fruits and licorice come through with tarry cherry, strawberry and plum, while earthy essences, mineral and fennel play in the background. This is a strong and forceful Nebbiolo that shows plenty of tannin and acidity to go with refined and detailed fruit, making it a classic example of terroir and the grape, at it’s best.
($90 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Savary, Chablis Vieilles Vignes, White Burgundy, France.
One of the finest Chardonnay wines for the money in the world, in my humble opinion, and a truly great effort for the vintage, the new Savary old vine Chablis has everything you could want for this grape and place. I’m a huge fan of this wine, I like it better than the pricier Premier Cru wines also produced by Francine and Olivier Savary, I think this Chablis is the cat’s meow with pure fruit, loads of wet stones and steely minerals, chalk and fresh vibrant acidity. Really, I find this bottling near perfection and while it may not reach Raveneau level, it does punch way above it’s weight in terms of depth and quality. The nose is a crushed stones, citrus flower and hazelnuts with a vigorous tension on the palate with lime, lemon, white peach and green apple fruits, hints of honey, saline and spice add to the whole. This polished Chardonnay could easily compete with a fine Puligny and while true to it’s terroir this wine is a bit rounder than most Chablis which is all right by me, as it has plenty of zingy brightness and life, a real beauty no question. Just off the boat, imported by Kermit Lynch, so look for it on shelves soon.
($28 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine Monier, Saint-Joseph “Terre Blanche” Rhone Valley, France.
This pure Syrah from Domaine Monier is a stunner and a real under the radar wine that is ready for the big time, another fantastic selection from Kermit Lynch Imports that impresses for quality. I’ve had a few vintages of this Domaine and have always loved the style and character found in the wines, especially the Terre Blanche and this vintage takes the estate to another level with amazing detail, complexities and textures that offer depth and lift, highlighting this fabulous vintage. The nose is compelling with seductive floral and meaty tones that give perfume and gamey essences along with mineral and spice notes before a driving palate of clearly defined Syrah qualities and terroir with blueberry, boysenberry, cherry liqueur and poached plum with dried currants, garrigue, truffled meat and white pepper. The rocky mineral tone is slightly smoky and adds to the wines complex layers while the youthful acidity balances everything very well while fine grained tannins show this Saint-Joseph has a lengthy future ahead of it. Look for this beautiful wine to gain in every area over the next few years and drink well for the next ten, maybe more, even though I would be hard pressed to wait on this one. This is a super wine that offers great pleasure and bang for the buck.
($46 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Broc, Zinfandel “Vine Starr” Sonoma County.
This is the Anti-Zin of modern conventions, this light and spicy wine is totally different than what people have come to expect from this grape, it is not that candy sweet, high alcohol style most common these days, but don’t fear this wine, celebrate it and enjoy the zest side of Zinfandel. Recently we learned the original parent grape of our Zinfandel is Tribidrag from Croatia and while it is mystery still how it got here and became California’s signature grape, it continues to evolve and intrigue us, and this new expression from Broc is really interesting and delightful with lots of subtle character and vibrant flavors. The 2011 vintage was one of the most difficult years on record for Zinfandel especially and you are going to be hard pressed to find many blockbuster wines, though if you have an open mind and enjoy more delicate wines you will find some rare treats indeed, like Broc’s Vine Starr Zin. The nose is all pepper, briar and bramble with hints of sage, rosemary, lavender and red currants which leads to a palate of fresh raspberry, strawberry, cranberry and tart plum while cracked pepper and candied citrus rind play in the background. As it opens there is more cherry and blueberry essences adding to the mix and while it is light to medium weight in body it is a very pleasing wine that should be enjoyed young.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive