Monthly Archives: September 2015

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 10, 2015

2009Chrisohoou2009 Estate Chrisohoou, Xinomavro, Naoussa PDO, Greece.
Nana Chrisohoou studied in Piedmonte, Italy and it shows in this beautiful Naoussa Xinomavro that really tastes like a fine Langhe Nebbiolo is many ways and is a great example of this varietal and place. The Estate Chrisohoou was originally founded just after World War II, but became a wine grower/producer in the 1970’s and now a new generation is making it’s mark here, with many of the most current releases grabbing international attention and acclaim, they have score many gold and silver medals in Decanter Magazine and are now finding success in the United States, these wines offer a lot of value for the money and are unique, fun and entertaining. I really was thrilled with the Estate Chrisohoou 2009 Xinomavro, Nana has done a masterful job in crafting this wine, it shows wonderful fruit, spice, earth and charm with dried flowers, peppery spice, cedar and vibrant red cherries leading the way along with dusty/bramble berry, plum and slate/stones, tarry melted licorice, soy sauce and lavender oil. This medium full wine feels smooth and textured on the palate, the extended aging helps silken the tannin, but good acidity and focus keep things detailed and lively, at 13.5% it is nearly perfectly balanced and it is really drinking well now. If you want Greek, I’d recommend searching this surprising and stunning Estate Chrisohoou Naoussa Xinomavro out, best from 2015 to 2018.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 9, 2015

2013PrincessPN2013 The Princess & the Peasant, Pinot Noir, Signal Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge.
Signal Ridge Vineyard, high above the Anderson Valley in the Mendocino Ridge AVA is the source for this new project by winemaker Stephanie Rivin, this is name to watch as her Princess and the Peasant Pinot Noir is a real beauty. Riven works closely with Nicole Scommegna at Signal Ridge Vineyard and between them they have put out some wonderful wines, the Signal Ridge Pinot is also a worthy effort, but I liked The Princess & the Peasant 2013 a tad better and chose to highlight it here, it really is a glorious and balanced wine with deep flavors and zesty vibrant acidity, there is lots of energy and vitality with silky tannin, as well as layered fruit. The 2013 The Princess & the Peasant Pinot Noir is a dark ruby in the glass and shows some black cherry, blueberry, plum and dried currants on the palate with a hint of floral tones, minty herb, rhubarb, mineral and a light cedar note, while the finish lingers with strawberry, apple skin and licorice root. The oak is very faint, subtle framing only and the wine has medium weight, coming in at about 13.9% alcohol, but the feel is excellent, with a blue and black fruit profile similar to what you find in Oregon and overall this is very stylish and tasty stuff, drink over the next 3 to 5 years, and be sure to keep an eye for this, as well as checking out all Signal Ridge and the other Rivin, Dan Rivin Lichen offerings too, all are lovely and exciting wines.
($32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 8, 2015

2014KrugerRumpfMunstererTrocken2014 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling, Munsterer Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
One of the best dry Rieslings flying under the radar is Kruger-Rumpf’s Munsterer Trocken, this beauty is a steal and should be bought in large amounts by Riesling fans, this flexible and succulent white offers pretty aromas, bright fruit, savory spices is salty dry, filled with vibrant acidity and steely verve. This is such a complete wine, you won’t believe it is not a Cru, especially attractive is the price and complexity of flavors on offer. The 2014 vintage is not as up front as the last 3 years in Germany, and it’s going to be difficult finding a sweet spot and there is not going to be a lot of choices, but Kruger-Rumpf’s basic dry Riesling is a shinning star and a wine of substance and class, it does everything right and has terroir character, finesse and vivid allure. This little gem starts with tangy citrus, white flowers and rose oil leading to a tart and refreshing/brisk palate of lime, mango, apricot flesh and peach pit along with mixed mineral and stony elements. The mouth feel is sizzling and austere, but the fruit has layers and the wine is in complete balance, I have tasted it twice and it continues to impress and improve, this is stylish dry Riesling that never puts a foot wrong from start to finish, this super effort is a winner and is a great value. Touches of flinty pepper, wet rocks, brine, white tea, sour apple and tropical fruit add to the depth, this is wine for any purpose and in particular will be a go to for some of our Indian Summer nights, but this baby will be great year round, drink from 2016 to 2020, be sure to search this one out!
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 7, 2015

2013WindyOaksDianes2013 Windy Oaks Estate, Pinot Noir “Diane’s Block” Charmant Mountain Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This is another brilliant effort from Windy Oaks and marks the beauty of 2013 in the south Santa Cruz Mountains, one of the best “Diane’s Block” to date with multi-layered finesse and texture. The Windy Oaks Estate has a small vineyard close to Aptos, now called Charmant Mountain Vineyard, this is the source for Diane’s Block and it is at a slightly lower elevation and a touch warmer, making it a perfect spot for a generous and forward wine with silky mouth feel, but still with cool climate vibrancy and charm. I tasted the Diane’s Block along side two of the Estate offerings, and while all the 2013 Windy Oaks Pinots are wonderful and skillfully crafted, the Diane’s Block stood out at this time with lovely heightened aromatics, long lingering fruit and sublime delicacy. The light ruby hue and subtle perfume draw you in and the palate is richly detailed with black cherry, strawberry and dried currant and to the rose petal and crushed violets with spice, cedar and tangy cranberry. The wine unfolds to deliver a creamy and plum laced mid palate and the finish has a hint of saline, warm stone and vanilla/toast as well as lengthy anise infused raspberry and briar, fruit and acidity are already singing together in great voice here. This is a very seductive wine and it should only dial it up over the next 3 to 5 years, drink from 2016 to 2018.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 6, 2015

2014vonWinningLangenmorgenGG2014 Weingut von Winning, Riesling, Langenmorgen, Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz, Germany.
The von Winning Grand Crus are some of the finest and most exotic white wines in the world, and while 2014 isn’t the greatest vintage, it shows the strength and talent in grape growing and winemaking, these barrel samples are showing amazing delicacy and finesse, not the usual tour de force and give more elegance, a feature of the 2014 vintage. The 2014 Langenmorgen Grosses Gewachs Trocken starts with graceful detail and light perfume, white flowers and yellow roses lead the way with soft brioche, toast and vivid citrus in this pale Riesling, being a cask sample, it still is a bit shy, but with a bit of coaxing the Langenmorgen opens are unveils it’s inner soul and complexity with vibrant lime, lemon peel, pineapple, pear and kumquat fruits, a hint of leesy richness and subtle wood smokiness. This wine is heaven, briskly focused and has a nice play of salty/brine, fruit and wet stones along with potential textural sensations in the future, I can’t wait to try this again in a few years time. There is plenty of acidity and charm here in this gorgeous wine by von Winning’s Stephan Attmann, he is probably one of the world’s best winemakers and his work on the 2011, 2012, 2013 and even these 2014’s show why, the man is a gifted talent, inspired by the greats in Burgundy he has transformed what can be achieved with dry Riesling! The von Winning lineup is strong throughout, especially great are the Sauvignon Blancs, the basic dry and off dry Rieslings, their Pinot Noir and of course the Grosses Gewachs from Deidesheim in Germany’s Pfalz region. The Langenmorgen really stood out in the samples of the Grand Crus, though I expect the others to develop into fantastic wines as well with more time, these glorious expressions of dry Rieslings highlight the sandstone, loam and limestone soils, that again are more in tune with Burgundy then the slate of the Mosel, Rheingau or the Nahe. I highly recommend searching out the 2012’s which are still out there, especially to drink sooner, and let the 2013 and 2014 wines have a bit more time to grow and fill out, though if you like Grand Cru Chablis or nervy Meursault or Puligny, you should secure some of these 2014 von Winning Grosses Gewachs, with less obvious oak and with more steely/mineral elements these wines look to be thrilling in another few years. The Langenmorgen GG most likely will be released in the new year, so make note, and it should be a quick sell out, as these wines gain notoriety, drink the 2014 from 2016 to 2028, it is a ways from being it’s best, but it is certainly a very impressive and special Riesling of class and refinement.
($72 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 5, 2015

2012RandomPN2012 Ransom Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Selection, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Here is a great Pinot from Oregon that will surprise even the most jaded of Pinot lovers, a wonderful vintage shines through in this beautiful wine from Ransom, with fruit coming from good sites in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Ransom does a series of unique wines as well as some remarkable sweet and dry Vermouth, everything I’ve tried from Tad Seestedt recently, were tasty and fun, but the 2012 Selection Pinot is amazingly delicious and vibrant. The wax capsuled 2012 Ransom Selection Willamette Valley starts with red fruits, wilted roses and sweet spices that entices the senses and leads to a palate of blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruits along with hints of earth, pepper and cedar. This bright ruby hued Pinot gains density with air, but remains lively, vivid and transparent throughout, it adds complex layers as it unfolds in the glass with touches of flinty mineral, vanilla, cinnamon, blueberry, anise and dried currant all making appearances in the background of this polished and pleasing offering. This is lovely effort with ripe fruit, tangy acidity and nice textures, it finishes with a superb lingering aftertaste of sweet fruit and saline savory elements. Best to enjoy this Pinot Noir with cuisine, I can see it going great with duck breast and or wild mushroom dishes, and it should age pretty well, though I recommend it now, drink from 2015 to 2018.
($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 4, 2015

2012AlbatrossRidgeVivienne2012 Albatross Ridge, Pinot Noir “Cuvee Vivienne” Estate Grown, Carmel Valley.
One of the most exciting wines in Monterey, and especially in Carmel Valley, has to be the Albatross Ridge Pinot Noir(s) made by Garrett Bowlus, these beautifully crafted wines are the highlights of a extensive Carmel Valley tasting and were without a doubt the best Pinot Noir I’ve ever tried from the Valley. The Albatross Ridge estate sits high up, not far from from Talbott’s Diamond-T, across the valley from Garland Park with southeast exposure and set on chalky, ancient seabed, soils, this is a steep site and very cool, perfect for Burgundy style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pinot Cuvee Vivienne 2012 is a magnificent effort, it is richly detailed with gorgeous fruit and mouth feel with great acidity, focus and vigor, but with refined tannins and elegance throughout. The winemaking is impressive with deft touch and finesse, the 2012 Cuvee Vivienne saw about 30% new French oak, 100% native yeast fermentation and is unfixed and unfiltered, all of which preserves the purity and sense of terroir, Bowlus is very much a winemaker that rejoices in low alcohol and delicacy of flavors, very much as you find in Cobb, Hirsch, Peay and Failla wines from the Sonoma Coast, which the Albatross Ridge resembles. The 2012 Vivienne starts with spice, floral tones and earthy notes, it is medium dark ruby in hue with a palate of black cherry, tart plum and wild strawberry fruits, chalky stones, mineral and a fine creamy texture along with subtle fennel, briar and cedar. This is exciting Pinot and drinks with flourish and style, I loved the play of fruit, savory elements and vibrancy that keeps your attention from start to finish, look for further gains with bottle age and drink between 2016 and 2020. I tasted through the current lineup of Bowlus’ Albatross Ridge, all of which merit mention with a dense and lush estate Chardonnay, a tangy/austere Rose of Pinot Noir and a higher end estate reserve Pinot that displays a bit more power, body and smoky oak, a superb wine in it’s self, but the wine that really stood out for quality and price was this fabulous 2012 Cuvee Vivienne, named after Garrett’s young daughter. Pinot Noir looks set to be the go to grape for Carmel Valley, particularly in the cooler areas, my favorite wines are led by Albatross Ridge, but Silvestri and Holman Ranch are also very good too.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 3, 2015

2013ParsonageXandro2013 Parsonage, Xandro Reserve, Proprietary Red, Estate, Carmel Valley.
One of the great wines of Carmel Valley, Parsonage Village Vineyard’s Xandro Reserve is an opulent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah wonderfully crafted by Frank Melicia, Bill Parson’s winemaker and son in law, who is making quite a name for himself. I’ve followed Parsonage since the beginning and have many times suggested that these wines are the benchmark wines of this region, this still seems to be the case, especially when it comes to Cabernet, Syrah and big red blends, but other wineries have raised their game and a generation has grown up here making for some serious competition to Parsonage’s wines, wines from Holman Ranch, Albatross Ridge, Figge, Madeleine and Silvestri (Frank Melicia also makes the wines here) all make fantastic wines, all have reached that top echelon, with some others putting in superb efforts from Carmel Valley and just beyond in the greater Monterey area including Arroyo Seco. The Parsonage wines show gorgeous fruit, density and length. While Carmel Valley’s old school reds from the likes of Durney (now Heller) Galante and Bernardus have made good examples, and Bordeaux style reds, the Parsonage wines are richer, fuller and much more lavish, especially the reserve wines that rival Napa and Paso for hedonistic pleasure, though with tiny amounts available the downside is the seemingly high prices keep these wines from gaining mainstream attention, in other words, these wines remain one of the great secrets of the Central Coast. The 2013 Xandro Reserve has a flamboyant and expressive character with a beautiful bouquet of violets, sweet new French oak, creme de cassis and mixed spices leading to a dark fruited palate of boysenberry, blackberry, blueberry and succulent currant with smoke, camphor, graphite, black licorice, cinnamon stick, kirsch, spiced plum, cigar wrapper, vanilla, sage, chalky stones, mocha and cedar. Everything feels textural, thick and sensual, but there is nice vigor, power and focus, making this unique red blend very interesting and dynamic, it shows both varietals in a polished way, similar to some of new generation of westside Paso Robles, this is a deeply colored and full bodied wine, it is ripe, but with refined tannins that holds things together. The 100% Syrah “Rocco” and the Petit Verdot based “Bixby” are also sublime wines and are worth checking out, but this Xandro Reserve really delivers, this is very sexy stuff, drink from 2016 to 2023.
($80 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 2, 2015

2013AlfaroPN2013 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This is a stunning and wonderfully textured Pinot Noir from the Alfaro family Vineyards and is one of the best values in California, period! 2013 is a fantastic vintage for Richard Alfaro’s Santa Cruz Mountains estate, the Pinots show amazing detail, beautiful fruit and with almost perfect balance with lifting acidity, lower alcohol, but with deep rich character and style. I am a huge fan of Richard’s wines and his grapes, these are wines that deserve much praise and attention, in the last few years Richard has found fans in the industry, he now sells fruit to a few superstar wineries, these include Arnot-Roberts, Big Basin and Ceritas, so now is a good time to discover this estate near Corralitos. The estate 2013 Alfaro Family Vineyards Pinot is a bright ruby color in the glass, it is nicely perfumed with violets, roses and fresh black raspberry leading the way and the palate is bursting with bing cherry, dusty plum, tangy currant and sweet smoky notes, black tea, cedar, cinnamon, anise and mineral/flinty elements along with lingering blueberry, vanilla and earthy notes. The 2013 saw about 20% new French oak and was aged about 17 months in barrel, allowing full flavors to develop and this beauty is showing fantastic, it is exciting, vibrant and packed with ripe layers highlighting the cool climate hang-time. I love the vivid juicy nature, this is a well judged and deftly crafted wine with hidden silken tannin, lush mouth feel and is thrilling from start to finish. All of Alfaro’s Pinots in 2013 are looking good, and they should age brilliantly, as well as this one you should check out his other estate offerings, the Lindsay Paige, The Mary Katherine (Organic) and the Trout Gulch. Drink the 2013 Estate bottling over the next 3 to 5 years, though I am convinced the 2013 with go a decade or more, this is tasty and well made stuff, best from 2015 to 2022.
($35 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 1, 2015

2010RaffaultChinon2010 Olga Raffault, Chinon “Les Picasses” Loire Valley, France.
This old school and beautifully crafted Cabernet Franc is a classic example of varietal and terroir with wonderful texture, vigor and depth. The Olga Raffault wines are exceptional values, especially this Les Picasses Chinon that gives tremendous rustic charm, character and pleasure for a remarkable price, and I also really enjoyed the 2014 Chinon Rose as well, these are world class offerings. Interesting and intriguing to note, Raffault also offers older vintage wines from the cellar, recently they releases wines from the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, all of which have thrilled those lucky few that snapped them up, I tasted an ’89 that blew me away and I also just sampled the 2006 that is still available with very positive results, these wines drink great young, but age fantastically well and at this price you should consider putting a few bottles away. The 2010 Olga Raffault Les Picasses Chinon Cabernet Franc is a dark garnet hued wine in glass with a complex nose of violets, chalk dust, leather and spice leading to a delicately layered palate of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and plum fruits emerge with green pepper, black olive, earth, mineral and animal in the background along with minty herbs, anise and cedar. As the wine unwinds a fuller sense of mouth feel comes through and the lightly grainy tannins smooth out and a nice tangy currant aftertaste lingers along with lifting acidity. This is a lovely and focused Cabernet Franc that carries it’s sense of terroir with pride, these are pure and gorgeous wine of style and class, drink the 2010 from 2015 to 2025.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive