2013 Arnot-Roberts, Rose, Luchsinger Vineyard, Clear Lake.
It’s Spring, it’s warm and it is full on Rose season with many exciting choices out there from Sheldon’s Rose of Graciano to Rochioli’s rare Rose of Pinot Noir and Matthiasson’s Napa Valley Rose all tasting great right now, but for something even more unique you might want to hurry and get some of this fantastic Pink from Arnot-Roberts. The 2013 Arnot-Roberts Rose is made from Touriga Nacional, the Portuguese grape common in Port wines, it is grown on the volcanic soils of Lake County, at Luchsinger Vineyard, north of Napa Valley and makes for a terrific and interesting Rose with lively acidity, spice and loads of flavor. Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts started Arnot-Roberts back in 2001, it seems like yesterday, and have since become one of the must have wines and Duncan’s winemaking is on fire, the latest wines are fantastic, I’m a huge fan of his Syrah, Chardonnay and the Trousseau, but I can tell you I’ll be sipping on the Rose as much as possible, this is dynamite stuff. The 2013 Rose of Touriga Nacional is bright with a nose of flinty red spices, tangy cherry, subtle floral and light plum notes leading to a palate of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon and red citrus along with mineral and pepper. Everything is framed by lively fresh acidity and it is zesty from start to finish with the perfect amount of crispy character and mouth watering saline, though there is plenty of lingering fruit aftertaste and this Rose is very fulfilling, drink now.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($24.95)
2012 Maison L’Envoye, Pinot Noir, Two Messengers, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Maison L’Envoye wines are made by the next generation of Etzel, Mike Etzel Jr, his dad Mike Etzel senior is of course the man behind the iconic Beaux Freres, he is helped along by famed Burgundy winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair giving this project excitement and pedigree. These wines by Maison L’Envoye are lush, richly flavored and complex with mineral, spice, loam and truffle notes, and this Two Messengers is wonderfully balance, and even though it is the entry level wine for this project, it is a lovely effort, maybe the upper end “Attache” ($39.95) might give a bit more and will be certainly worth looking at, I just am highly impressed with this one. The nose is deep with blackberry, violets, dried rose petals, blueberry and red spices leading to a palate of raspberry, plum and black cherry fruit, flinty stones, mocha and anise with hints of wild mushrooms, strawberry and tea spices. This is beautiful wine, easy to love and showcases the vintage, this is a super new wine to search for and start collecting, drink now through 2018.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Domaine Fernand Engel, Riesling “Cuvee Engel” Alsace, France.
With Spring fully singing now, my thoughts return to one of favorite grapes, Riesling and it’s zest freshness that makes everything feel refreshed and alive after the cool winter months. This terrific value priced Riesling from France’s Alsace region really turns on the charm and gives lots of expressive flavors with tropical and earthy layers, spice and mineral riding on a light to medium palate of crisp and tangy tension and subtle intensity. The Fernand Engel estate is farmed organic and uses biodynamic practices in the vineyards, it shows a love of their land and the wines certainly show refinement and terroir, especially this Riesling Cuvee Engel, plus this wine sees good time on it’s lees, this adds depth and richness.There’s floral notes, bright apple, lime and apricot to go with zesty citrus and peachy layers along with pepper, clove, dried rose petals and briny notes. This is classic and groovy Alsace Riesling, subtle lifting acidity drives the engine and detailed mineral, loam and wet stones add complexity beyond the mentioned fruit, finishing with hints of tropical essences, I am in Spring mood with this one, this is a very happy wine, it’s a winner in my book!
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($16.95)
2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Rully “Les Cailloux” White Burgundy, France.
The small lot wines of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey are hot ticket items and the demand is fierce, this guy is on fire and Burgundy lovers are scrambling to get his latest releases. I managed to score his Rully Les Cailloux to sample and I can attest to the talents Colin-Morey and to the quality of the 2012 vintage, which will be extremely scarce, with as much as 60% of the production in the Cote de Beaune lost to a small crop that was weather damaged by hail. What came in the end was a tiny crop of sublime fruit and everyone is trying desperately to get their hands on these wines. Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s Rully Les Cailloux 2012 is from the Cote Chalonnaise and near the Chagny commune, and is is elegant, classic and charming, this is a pure Chardonnay that delivers all that is expected of it with layers of lemon, baked apple, pear and white peach, along with hazelnuts, sea salt and plenty of juicy acidity plus steely mineral notes and lots of wet stones. With air complexity and depth come into play in this compelling 12% alcohol white, with palm dates, golden fig, clove and lime flower all playing roles, this is lovely and vibrant stuff, I can only imagine how wonderful his Cru wines are, if you see these wines I suggest you grab them.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($39.95)
2012 Domaine Faury, Condrieu, Rhone White, France.
Philippe and his son Lionel make exquisite wines, hand crafted in the Northern Rhone, they specialize in small lot Syrah from Cote-Rotie and St.-Joseph, but they really do a masterful job with their whites, especially the 100% Viognier from Condrieu. The 2012 may just be their finest wine to date, I think so anyway, and I’ve been a fan of these wines for some 4 or 5 years now, it is remarkably poised yet powerful with intense fruit, mineral and wonderful texture. The Domaine’s vines are on steep slopes, produce tiny yields and are gently fermented, using stainless and neutral wood, with only about 10% new barrels used to provide richness without losing the freshness and detail of this gorgeous wine. These vines are on granite soils and gives wonderful terroir expression and varietal purity, the juice is on it’s lees for 11 months adding complexity and lavish depth while allowing vibrancy and bright acidity to heighten the experience, this is classy and hedonistic Viognier no question. The nose is all honeysuckle, jasmine, steely minerals and crushed gravel with tree picked peaches and apricots on the full palate with hints of green apple and tangy citrus notes while touches of earth and spice add to the stylish array of flavors. Look for this wine to drink well for 3 to 5 years, I honestly enjoy Viognier more young and vivid, and this wine is a stunner! Condrieu in a vintage like this can rival any white, I highly recommend grabbing some while they are available and this Faury, imported by Kermit Lynch, would be a great way to start.
($56 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($53.95)
2012 Wilde Farm, Pinot Noir “Trois Fils” Anderson Valley.
This wonderfully vibrant and vivid hand crafted Pinot Noir is a remarkable new discovery, made by the very talented Pax Mahle, of Wind Gap and Pax, and is a stunning value. The Trois Fils by Wilde Farm Wines is a low alcohol charmer, at 12.4%, and shows real Burgundian class and mineral tones with full flavors and lifting acidity. This terrific wine shows the perfect combo of ripe and pure Pinot generousness and dynamic freshness of being able to pick developed grapes that are not green or harsh while retaining good acid levels and making for a wine that shows true balance, it could almost only happen in a vintage like 2012. This Trois Fils lacks for nothing and is rich and engaging with compelling fruits and floral tones, it was made with neutral wood and natural yeasts, unfined and unfiltered, this old school Pinot is just plain delicious. The nose is minerally with hints of violets, roses, gravel and herbs leading to a palate that has dark fruits including black raspberry, bing cherry and plum along with touches of cranberry and strawberry adding some zesty tangy. There is wet stones, a bit of loam and whiffs of cinnamon and tea spices too, plus some fig and briny saline, this has a mouth watering effect and a medium weight feel in the mouth. I can only say, more please, and highly recommend getting on their limited mailing list, drink now and over the next 3 to 5 years, this is well made entry level Pinot from promising new label and a great vintage.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Hilberg-Pesquero, Vareij, Vino Rosso, Piedmonte, Italy.
The Hilberg wines are something of a revelation, these gorgeous wines are from biodynamic/organic farming and highlight the risk rewards involved in this region, with tiny yields and gentle care these wines really do stand out. The Vareij is a unique blend of Barbera and Brachetto, each year the percentage changes from 60% Brachetto to 20%, with Barbera being the core. The Brachetto grape is used primarily is sweet and sparkling production and is only rarely used in still dry table wines, though with the right kind of farming it can really add perfume and exotic dimension to the wine and that is certainly the case with this 2011 Vareij from Hilberg-Pasquero. The nose jumps from the glass with a massive bouquet array of fresh and dried roses, violets and lavender oil along with grilled herbs, tobacco leaf and asian spices leading to a refined palate of blackberry, cherry and strawberry fruits with hints of basil, iodine and poached plum. This medium weight red shows fine tannins and crisp acidity, it is a wine that really benefits from being served slightly chilled, similar to a Beaujolais, though this wine is much more wild and nervy, drink from 2014 to 2017. This is another fun and passionate wine from Hilberg, these are super artisan wines that are lovingly handcrafted, and it shows with every sip.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Owen Roe, Pinot Noir “Kilmore” Willamette Valley, Oregon.
A knock out Pinot from David O’Reilly, in what looks set to be one of the great vintages ever in Oregon come this fantastic Pinot from Owen Roe, made from a selection of clones including Wadenswil, Pommard and modern Dijons coming off top sites in Yamhill-Carlton. This area is ancient seabed and has lots of dark fruit character and the 2012 Kilmore gives copious amounts of blackberry, cherry and pomegranate with a lush, lavish mouth feel and a long rich aftertaste. This is a dense wine, medium bodied, that has plenty of charm and is elegantly balanced with subtle lifting acidity and silky tannins. This deep Pinot expands in the glass with vivid flavors, smooth oak shadings, loamy earth, tangy spice, minty anise and dried flowers. Wonderfully complete and round, this wine has texture, complexity, balance and length, drink now and with abandon this is sexy, sexy, sexy stuff. Oregon 2012 Pinots are blockbusters, don’t miss these beautiful wines.
($44 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($42.95)
2012 Peay, Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
Vanessa Wong’s latest Savoy is flat out stunning and totally gorgeous, one of the best yet from the vintage which promises so much. The new Peay comes off the Cru site farmed by Richard Savoy in Anderson Valley, it is set in the middle of the valley on rolling hills and planted to a selection of heritage and dijon clones, though Peavy seems to like the Calera clone a lot here. Savoy has many a talent enjoying the fruits of his labor, with top producers like Littorai, Radio-Coteau, Breggo, Auteur and Kutch all making great wines from this special place. The 2012 Peay is beautiful from start to finish, full and expressive with lush layers along with acidic framing and life making for a divine experience. The nose is perfumed with floral tones and light earthiness, mineral and exotic spices leading to a lavish palate of red currants, morello cherry, mountain raspberry, crushed violets, lavender, wild mushrooms, anise and tea spices, plus a touch of mouth watering briny saline, gravel stones and then hints of mocha and vanilla. The finish is long and leaves a lightly fruity aftertaste with strawberry echoing along with fresh plums, fantastic, drink 2014 to 2022.
($60 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 G.D. Vajra, Riesling, Langhe Bianco, Piedmonte, Italy.
The G.D. Vajra Riesling is an exotic expression of this varietal and has been a huge hit in the region, with many more top producers either planting Riesling or planing to in the near future, it looks as if Riesling has found a welcoming home in the Langhe. The G.D. Vajra Riesling is mostly from select Alsatian clones some provided by Marcel Deiss and a bit of a Nahe German clone, so they have pedigreed vines and it shows in the wine and the quality that is in the glass. The latest release from this Barolo house is full of rich detail and and loaded with unique character, this wine is neither French Alsatian or German in feel or style, this wine brings something new and distinct to the Riesling world and while the 2010 and 2011 might have been a bit more intriguing, this 2012 is a lovely and graceful wine. Even though the price seems a bit high, which knocks a few points off the top here, this is a worthy search and a very savvy choice, the 2012 is dry, fresh and filling with entertaining flavor and class. The bouquet is a touch floral and bright with citrus blossoms and delicate rose petals which leads to a full mouth, this wine has texture and expands gracefully on the palate with white peach, tropical notes, lime and green melon along with sea salt, oyster shells and tea spices. There is just of hint of sour cherry and petrol, but with air there is fuller stone fruits, apple and chalky mineral, this nicely complex Riesling subtly shows it’s nervy acidity, this wine isn’t as electric as it’s German cousins or as dense as some of it’s French Alsatian brothers, but it certainly deserves some attention. Look for this Langhe to develop further over the next 3 to 5 years, though I might suggest to drink this vintage in it’s first 2-4 years, best from 2015 to 2018.
($50 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive