2014 Succes Vinicola, Trepat Conca de Barbera “La Cuca de Llum” Spain.
To the north of Montblanc and west of Barcelona is the small region of Conca de Barbera, named for the castle of Barbera and small historic medieval town in Catalunya where Succes Vinicola makes some intriguing wines, especially the delicate and alluring Trepat La Cuca de Llum red. Trepat is a red grape, almost forgotten except for use in Rosé Cava is now the darling of the region and is getting the same interest and attention as Trousseau and Poulsard, the lighter style reds from the Jura, get now. The Succes Vinicola Trepat 2014 shows a delicate color, similar to Pinot Noir with bright ruby at the core and pinkish edges, which leads to a tangy red fruited wine that has a mix of spice, herb, red berries and mineral tones with smooth tannins and a lift of acidity, this vintage gives raspberry, tart lingonberry, bing cherry and orchard plum along with anise, hints of spring flowers, bitters/aperol and mild earthy essences. This is a succulent red wine that was fermented with native yeasts and aged in well used big casks, it gives a light impression on the finely detailed palate and has a crisp, but lengthy finish, great with a slight chill, it feels smooth and goes great with many food choices, even including seafood or subtle meat dishes, drink this very compelling medium/light bodied red over the next 2 to 3 years. If you are fond of Cru Beaujolais or Trousseau you’ll really want this wine, imported by Trumpet Wines, it is really fun and fresh with lots of old world charm.
($17 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Gallety, Cotes du Vivarais Rouge, Vallee du Rhone, France.
Only recently discovered by Kermit Lynch, Domaine Gallety is a rising star in the little known Côtes du Vivarais making excellent Rhône reds from Syrah and Grenache, it’s called the gateway between the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône Valley and Alain and his son David-Alexandre are expressing the best of both worlds on their all organic estate to west of the Rhône above Nimes near the Ardèche close to Montélimar to the small village to the north. These hills are similar to the Côtes-du-Rhône with lots of sand and clay with mostly limestone, the climate is slightly wetter and cooler giving the grapes longer hang time and plays into style at Gallety who favors Syrah, though this Côtes du Vivarais cuvee Rouge uses it’s 50% of Grenache perfectly giving the wine a rich graceful nature. Domaine Gallety ferments in cement gravity fed cuves and aged in ex-Burgundy barrels, the ferments last about 20 or so days and the wine tastes like whole cluster, with native yeasts, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2013 Côtes du Vivarais Rouge is 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache as mentioned, from 40 year old vines and it shows plenty of dark fruits, wild herbs, spice and sweet floral tones starting with crushed violets, camphor/embers, creme de cassis and fresh cracked peppercorns with layers of damson plum, black cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate fruits with chalky stones, lavender, black olives and anise. This gorgeous Rhone red feels like a blend of Cornas & Gigondas with sexy flamboyance, superb detailing and a nice exotic and earthy essence, this is serious stuff, be sure to look for it, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($28 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2015 Domaine de l’ Abbaye-Clos Beylesse, Cotes de Provence Rosé, France.
One of the classic Rosé wines, the Clos Beylesse is easy to spot with it’s unique blue bottle (for UV protection) and distinct label, made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault it is a tasty and refreshing summer time treat. Only a few years I would hardly give attention to Rosé, now I can’t even begin to cover enough of the category, there are so many lovely wines to explore. This Clos Beylesse is serious and well crafted with plenty of stony austere and fine mineral detail to balance the Grenache juiciness, the Syrah lends some body and earthy notes and the Cinsault gives spice, floral dimension and pop to the whole, this pink has some leesy texture, but is very crisp and vibrant. The Rosé is made using Saigne with some of the juicy blessed off to get the right color and extraction, and here it was done extremely well and with great care to keep a delicate hue of pale pink with a light orange tint and just enough tannins to give grip without any harsh elements showing through, this is a graceful and stylish wine, maybe not the best or the most exciting of the season, but certainly charming and of high quality, you won’t be let down with it’s watermelon, tart cherry, mixed citrus and rosewater core or it’s sleek wet stones, lavender and feline nature. Beautiful, refreshing and transparent, and great on it’s own, the Clos Beylesse also adds enjoyment to a varied cuisine, though steamed mussels and even sushi are prime choices for this Cotes de Provence Rosé, drink over the coming year.
($27 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2015 Ameztoi, Rosé “Rubentis” Getariako Txakolina, Spain.
The wildly amusing, zesty and spritzy, Ameztoi Rosé is alive with energy and vibrant fruit, it is a beautifully dry pink that will is impossible to resist. This is an exciting wine that is light and refreshing with a pop of residual carbon that makes in tingle on the tongue without being bubbly, it is crafted with 50% Hondararribi Beltza (red) and 50% Hondarribi Zuri (white) and comes from vines grown at about 150 meters above sea-level in the coastal Basque region of Spain, the vines age between 5 and 150 years old! The red and white grapes are fermented together, the ferments are cold and slow to preserve vitality and vigor, the terroir really shines through with cool maritime influence and the clay and sandy soils lend austere character in this all stainless steel aged Rosé. This gripping wine is made by Ignacio Ameztoi, the seventh generation of this Basque winemaking family, and he is regarded as one of the premier Txakolina producers and is respected far and wide for his lovely and intense wines, especially his classic white Hondarribi Zuri from his estate not far from San Sebastian. The 2015 Ameztoi Rubentis Getariako Txakolina Rosé shows zingy fresh citrus with an underlying lime and kiwi and upfront candied cherry, liquid strawberry, rosewater and watermelon along with hints of guava, steely mineral tones, peaky acidity and light savor/bitter herbs. It’s sad not to have this in magnums, as it is hard not to pound the regular bottle in seconds, so easy and lively is this wonderful to drink, it is a great summer quaffer and it’s unimaginable that you can’t love this smile inducing pink with it’s serve dry/crispness and low alcohol pleasure, great with food and sublime at anytime day or night! This wine must be on the up near the top of your list for the summer heat this year, it’s the adult lemonade!
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Rosé of Sciaccaellu “Cuvee Faustine” Vieilles Vignes, Ajaccio Corsica.
From the Ajaccio area of the island, Abbatucci maybe the most famous estate in Corsica and Jean-Charles Abbatucci, a direct descendant of General Jean-Charles Abbatucci a French Revolutionary hero and contemporary of fellow Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte, is one of the driving forces in Corsican wine, even with that long history Domaine Comte Abbatucci the estate winery is fairly young, being founded in 1950. Corsica has been a major player in wine since the Phocean times, dating back to the late 7th century and early 8th century, they most likely brought to the island the first main varietal vines from cuttings that were Etruscan in origin, though many in Corsica believe it may have been the Etruscans themselves, these grapes have become known locally as Sciaccarellu (Mammolo, still found in Chianti and Tuscany) and Niellucciu (Sangiovese), they are the two most common red grapes, as for whites there is the rare true native grape Biancu Gentile and Vermentinu (Vermentino) the leading grape for wine wine on the island, which may have came via neighboring Sardinia or the Italian coastal regions. Domaine Comte Abbatucci is all biodynamic and focuses purely on native grapes, it is set on mostly granite soils which gives finesse and mineral detail, Abbatucci, imported by Kermit Lynch, crafts some of the most sought after wines in Corsica along with Leccia and Clos Canarelli, these are wines that will blow your mind, especially Jean-Charles’ top red blends from field blends of vines that date back to the early 1960’s, but don’t over look his glorious Rosé of Sciaccarellu Cuvee Faustine with it’s gorgeous color and vibrancy, it’s a wine that rivals the great pink wines of Bandol with a succulent, steely crisp, dry richness and stunning length. The 2015 is full of flavor and energy with sour cherry, liquid roses, flinty spices, wet stone/shale along with juicy acidity, watermelon, strawberry and tangy red citrus. This is a sexy Rosé is made from direct pressing, no malo and a short cold soak to extract color, raised in stainless steel to keep it vital and refreshing. This is an outstanding vintage for Abbatucci, it has depth, ripeness and plenty of vigor with elegance, it’s edgy nervy nature makes it a riveting pleasure with cuisine and can be drunk with the whole meal, no matter how serious or robust the food choices. While the Corsican roses can age, it is always best to drink them in the first year.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Turasan, Emir Cappadocian White, Turkey.
From the wild landscapes of Cappadocia in central Turkey comes this vibrant and pleasing Emir white, and considering the origins, religion and politics this wine is somewhat a miracle, proof of some real passion for winemaking given the government’s open hostility to alcohol in any form! Cappadocia is a cross between a haunting moonscape and or something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel with huge rock formations that steep up from the ground and forming what they call “Fairy Chimneys” and the region has an interesting and lengthy history from early cave dwellers that caved homes from these impressive stones to being part of the Persian empire, as well as Roman and Byzantine conquests to a hiding place for Christians and Armenian settlers before Turkish clans took over the region and the rule of the Ottoman which came into being in the 15th century. Turkey produces the fourth largest amount of grapes in the world, though most never see the inside of a wine bottle in this pious country, but Anatolia’s Cappadocia is a big wine region and offers a surprising number of varietals and really good wines, especially Emir for whites and Kalecik Karasi for reds. Emir Cappadocian is a refreshing and vital white grape that makes for impressive dry whites and sparklers, though I’ve yet to sample the bubbly, from little I can gather it is a native grape and while good for early consumption it has a reputation for not being an ager or that is reacts badly when put in wood, regardless this Turasan is a lovely example and is serious fun wine that can put a smile on your face and easily please a crowd whether at a pool party, beach picnic or around a middle eastern or Turkish meal. The Turasan Emir is bright with citrus blossom, tangerine, apricot, peach and lemon/lime leading the way with hints of tropical fruit, a light zesty body, faint mineral notes and crisp dry character finishing with mayer lemon and tangy melon. Cappadocia sounds amazing and with history everywhere you look and heritage sites that are breath taking, hopefully I will visit this isolated region, in the meantime I’ll imagine it with this Emir, it is a wine well worth searching out.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
nv Christophe Mignon, Extra Brut Champagne, France.
A brilliant dry and vibrant Champagne of sublime depth and grace with a special expression of varietal purity, in this case 100% Pinot Meunier. Mignon is a tiny grower producer with small plots of Meunier spend between Le Breuil and Festigny in the Le Mesnil-le-Huttier area of Champagne not too far from Epernay, these 30 parcels are all farmed biodynamic and holistic with his vines that were planted by his grandparents. The latest Extra Brut comes from two vintages, 2011 and 2012 and was disgorged on February 7, 2015, it shows it’s lengthy lees aging and has a stylish intensity delivering wonderful vitality, depth and length with a soft, but vigorous mousse. Lemon, white cherry, apple, hints of red fruit and golden fig lead with white flowers, brioche, hazelnut and steely mineral, this is an earthy sensual sparkling wine that keeps your heart pounding and demands your full attention, this is a complex and detailed wine first and foremost, even if you wanted it just to celebrate it does that and much more, use a bigger bowled glass to experience it’s full charm and character, and I highly recommend you enjoy it with every course of your meal, gorgeous alone, but remarkable with cuisine. Meunier bubbly is all the rage, and Christophe Mignon is a great place to jump in, this is a great effort, this and his Rose are lovely, balanced and texture driven wines with finesse and seductive allure, don’t miss them!
($50 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2015 Uriondo, Bizkaiko Txakolina, Basque White, Spain.
The bright and zesty crisp Uriondo Txakoli is a pretty and dynamic summer white showing lots of lime citrus and high toned stone fruit along with bitter herb, steely mineral and a hint of Japanese spicy ginger. This very pale and tingling acid filled Bizkaiko Txakolina is made up of mostly Hondarribi Zuri, about 70% along with Sauvignon Blanc, known locally as Mune Mahatsa plus a bit of Folle Blanche, and known by the natives as Txori Mahatsa, the wine is almost all stainless steel fermented and raised, though surprisingly the Folle Blanche is fermented by itself in used American oak cask. The Atlantic cooling influence shows throughout in this finely detailed and light white wine, the vines are planted on sandy chalk and clay soils not too far from the Basque city of Bilbao. Uriondo is not an old winery by Spanish standards, starting in 1987, but it has certainly gained a great reputation for style and quality and I’ve been a fan for about 10 vintages now and this 2015 impresses for vibrancy and pleasure, it is nearly a perfect summer wine, refreshing and easy to love with a good long tangy finish with lingering citrus and green melon. This vivid white appears simple at first, but comes to life with complexity and verve with food and is a wonderful brisk low alcohol quaffer!
($21 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2015 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Estate Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Donnhoff’s Estate Trocken is a vibrantly dry and crisp mineral driven Riesling from plots of mixed soils, mostly porphyry with some gravel, loam and small amounts of slate near the Crus of Oberhauser Felsenberg and Kieselberg. in recent vintages, especially 2014 the Estate Trocken the wine seemed shy at first or subtle with austere briskness, but 2015 will certainly break that trend, it is flamboyant and richly flavored, while still dusty mouth watering it shows a dense core of apricot, white peach, green apple, mango and quince as well as tangy lime and steely mineral spice. This wine, which is still developing with a white flower and orangey nose, I’ve been saving to write about, as I tasted it as a tank/cask sample, should be available in the states later this month (June 2016) and it is a Riesling you’ll want to stock up on, it shows the vintage in all it’s greatness, you can and should believe the hype, the 2015 wines in Germany look to be some of the best ever for dry styles in particular, but also up to Spatlese as well! There is added depth, textural sensations and heightened perfume, even in the early samples I’ve tried, and while 2013 and 2014 are turning out to be lovely wines, these 2015 are so special, pure and hedonistic you’ll want their seductive charms in your cellar. With the Estate offerings from Donnhoff, you get Cru quality at insanely fair (bargain) prices, these are both remarkable wines the Trocken with it’s power and thrilling acidity/tanginess and the Estate, which is just off dry with a juicy and almost creamy hints at sweetness without being heavy, you can imagine enjoying with spicy Asian food, I only wish they made these in Liters or Magnums! The 2015 Donnhoff Estate Trocken is balanced, vigorous and joyously balanced, it lingers with stone fruit, nice saline elements, hints of tropical essences, tangerine, rose petal and crushed wet shale. Without question this is one of the best dry Rieslings in the world for the price, and a quilt free drink young wine from this famed address in the Nahe, this is a wine to greedily hoard and savor, plus it has everything needed and exact to age well for a decade easy, don’t miss.
($22 Est.) 91-93 Points, grapelive
2014 Bodegas Menade, Verdejo, Rueda Spain.
This all organic Verdejo from near Valladolid in the Rueda region is like a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc in style and crisp/tangy on the palate with loads of fresh lemon/lime, summer melon and gooseberry fruits, bitter herb, dusty stones and a touch of green almond oil. Crafted by the sibling team of Marco, Richard and Alejandra Sanz, Menade is certainly one of the great values of the region, they are making an exciting wine with bright detail and energy, it is native yeast fermented without sulfur and aged solely in stainless, it sees time on the lees to give a bit more complexity and richness. The soils are most clay and sand with veins of minimal limestone with some round pebbles and white carbonate dust, which adds to the distinct terroir flavors. I would much rather have this brilliant Verdejo than some generic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this white shows much more character and charm. Seriously tasty, tangy and vibrant with poise and elegance, it is hard to imagine a better $10 white for summer sipping or tapas, this wine shows vitality and personality that rarely can be matched for the price, being organic and low sulfur is a bonus, this this now and often, best from 2016 to 2018, perfect for picnics with fruit and cheeses as well as a refresher on warm evenings or for party quaffing!
($10 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive