2015 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Trocken “Bomer” Schlossberg, Mosel Germany.
Johannes Selbach’s new wine, the Bomer, is a dry, but lush Riesling from a single parcel of steep old vines in Schlossberg, that looks down on the church (and the Mosel) and is formed from the slate and reflected light. This pure Mosel is a stunning wine with crisp and crunchy mineral tones, flinty spices and gripping and focused fruit, balanced by almost creamy textural mouth feel, for such a young Riesling it has such grace and class, it will move you, this is glorious wine. The Bomer is not as dense or weighty as Schmitt, Rotlay or Anrecht, but my God is it good and sexy in way only Riesling can be sometimes, it gives all those tingly sensations of the acidity, though the extract makes you smile inside the same way you find you do when you have a great red Burgundy! Usually when tasting Selbach, you just don’t care whether there is sugar or lots of sugar, such is the fine balance and finesse it doesn’t matter at all, but here it does make a difference, this is a special case, this is a vintage that really delivers an impact in the Trocken (dry) wines and in this one it highlights that nature, it looks set to be a legend in this style for this winery. The nose is still shy, though perfume emerges with liquid rose petal, citrus blossom and spiced white fig? A hint of orange, key-lime and dried pineapple helping set a palate of mineral laced white and yellow fruits with wet shale, mango/passion fruit and zesty unripe green apple. With air you get classical apricot, tangy lime, tangerine sorbet and white anise/jasmine tea. This charming and steely Riesling floods your senses with flavors, but remains tightly wound and firmly under control, this wine is really a steal at the pre-offer price that is available, you’ll want to get your hands on this one, trust me, and while 2015 is looking like a great vintage for dry Riesling, look also for Selbach’s Graacher Alte Reben and the Sonnenuhr Ur Alte Reben, but do NOT miss your chance to get your hands on Selbach-Oster’s Spatlese and Auslese, especially the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spatlese, which I will review soon as well, it’s spectacular as well, Johannes gave a little wink when I tasted these two with him, so I’m pretty sure he thinks they were something just that little bit more special in a gorgeous lineup of proudly made wines! The 2015 Bomer doesn’t need much in the way of patience, though it should be very rewarding to put a few bottles away for 5 to 10 years, this beauty easily could be my desert island wine, drink over the next decade!
($29 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2015 Francois Chidaine, Touraine Rose of Grolleau, Pinot Noir & Gamay, Loire Valley, France.
Bright, fresh and easy with juicy/fruity character and a lovely brisk mineral streak the new Francois Chidaine Touraine Rose is a super fun and light summer wine. Low alcohol and crisply compelling from start to finish with tangy mixed berries, tart cherry and peachy stone fruits leading the way with citrus infused acidity and steely watermelon the Chidaine Rose of Grolleau, Pinot Noir and Gamay delivers a load of refreshment on the palate, but in a very delicate and lacy way with a bit of earth, spice and wet shale adding subtle and savory complexity. Organic and well made this little Rose is not a pink that thrills or lingers in memory, but still gives plenty of verve and is pleasing, great for summer sipping, light and fruity enough for breakfast, brunch, lunch and pre dinner, though maybe falling short to go with a main meal, better with lighter snacks and casual bites. Best very chilled and quaffed freely, this is just unique enough to be appealing and charming, not the most serious of Roses, it is still well worth your time to locate a few bottles. Drink this Chidaine pink as soon as possible, with gusto and without thought, this is simple vibrant wine made to be downed young, best with BBQed oysters or the Sunday newspaper on a warm morning!
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2014 Domaine de la Tournelle-Evelyne et Pascal Clairet, Trousseau des Corvees, Vins du Jura a Arbois Rouge, France.
The Clairet’s, both consulting winemakers in their own right, created Domaine de la Tournelle in 1991 and have followed the path of biodynamic and natural wines at their tiny estate in Arbois, making classic Jura offerings from native varietals using massale selections. These wines almost always have no added sulfur to showcase the absolute purity of their Jura terroir, the vines are all hand tended on ancient soils, mostly clay, grey Marl and limestone, and while they make a semi-oxidized Savagnin and Vin Jaune, they focus on fresher and vibrant wines from Ploussard, Chardonnay, Savagnin and this glorious and wonderfully detailed Trousseau. The 2014 Trousseau des Corvees shows bright intensity with ruby hues and a delicate mix of earth, spice and floral notes on the nose with tart cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruits filling out on the medium weight palate, it is darker than the ultra pale Ploussard and has more richness of mouth feel, even though both of the Domaine de la Tournelle reds are excellent and worth exploring, I found the Trousseau more interesting and entertaining, it has many layers to enjoy and gives an array of subtle elements in the background that includes touches of lavender, dried roses, basil/herbs, gravel and loamy forest floor. Evelyne and Pascal Clairet are a talented pair to be certain and you should search out their wines, these wines speak of the region with grace, texture and highlight the unique character of this place, in particular this Trousseau is a lovely expression, drink over the next 3 to 5 years, and maybe longer!
($38 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2013 Clos Marie, Metairies du Clos, Vielles Vignes, Pic Saint Loup Rouge, Languedoc-Roussillon France.
Christophe Peyrus is one of the Languedoc’s finest winemakers and the all biodynamic Clos Marie is his estate in Pic Saint Loup, these are fantastic wines with depth of character, terroir and soul, especially good in the 2013 vintage is the Metairies du Clos. Made from mostly 60-100 year old vines, it is comprised of about 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 5% Cinsault making the Metairies du Clos a richly flavored and dark red with lots of brooding black fruit, firm tannins and spice. A third of the wine was aged in large cask with the main lot aged in used barrel, and while the oak helps smooth out the wine and adds nice textural feel, it imparts almost no influence in the taste leaving a dense and pure red upon which to admire, this is seriously sexy and powerful stuff! The color is intensely deep with a black/purple core and bright garnet edges, and the nose is full of violets, black fruit, mineral and peppery lavender leading to an impressive and full bodied palate showing bramble berry, black raspberry, plum, currant/cassis and kirsch along with black dusty licorice, flinty stones, minty garrigue with traces of peppercorns, cedar and blueberry skins. The Metairies du Clos has even more potential to improve in bottle, but it would be hard not to drink it now, best from 2017-2029, this is stunning wine, detailed, opulent and gripping, and it really comes alive with rustic and hearty cuisine!
($35 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2015 Weingut Von Winning, Sauvignon Blanc II, Pfalz Germany.
Even the entry level 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Von Winning is beyond expectations, and those were high, and this mostly stainless steel version truly makes you wonder why you’d drink Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere else! Honestly, I’d rather have this 2015 Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc II Trocken than almost any New Zealand or California wine, especially in this price class, nothing comes close, not Cloudy Bay, and certainly not Duckhorn or Cakebread, which taste awful in comparison! It getting tougher when you get to the Loire Valley or even Alto Adige, but again at this price, the Von Winning prevails, it’s just that much more interesting and complex, it’s simply much more the compelling wine. Grown following biodynamic (organic) principles in high density vines on the sandstone, limestone and clay in the Pfalz, the Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc II shows bright floral tones, a pale sunrise in the glass and intense gooseberry and a burst of lemon/lime to start with a fleshy and forward palate adding white peach and subtle tropical notes with striking mineral, wet stones and a crisp dusty chalky character. A hint of herb, pink grapefruit and tangy marmalade add to the complexity, and while brisk with juicy acidity this light bodied white gains texture and has wonderful and detailed mouth feel and heavenly delicacy. Von Winning is on a roll and 2015 takes things to the next level, you’ll want to get any and every Riesling they make in this glorious vintage, but do not overlook the Sauvignon Blancs, these are mind blowing wines, they might have made me fall in love with this varietal all over again, and in particular this 2015 Sauvignon Blanc II, in my book it’s the best Sauvignon Blanc for the money you can buy, period, end of story! Drink this vibrant beauty over the next 3 to 5 years, drink it alone as a pure summer sipper or really get the best out of it with cuisine, be that cheeses or white fish as well as lemon chicken or sushi even, just don’t miss this wine!
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2014 Bonny Doon Vineyards, Grenache, The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy, Monterey County.
Randall Grahm’s earthy and spicy dark Grenache is a delightful and intriguing wine, at first juicy with bright red fruit, but as it unwinds in the glass it takes on a deeper, much more intense presence with layers of blackberry, boysenberry, wild plum and strawberry fruits along with peppercorns, meaty notes and porcini earthiness. There is a fine textural feel and a certain amount of Grenache hedonism that makes you more comfortable and it shows a sense of varietal purity and charm, it leans toward a Vacqueyras in style, and it grows on you into the second and third tastes with hints of anise, floral notes, dusty stones and kirsch all coming through in a delayed addition. There is good balance and detail in The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy and it’s lively acidity helps keep it fresh and the natural tannins cut some of the riper notes, overall there is a solid core of fruit and structure, making for a wine that really deserves your full attention, but is helped greatly by cuisine, this is a much more serious effort than it’s label or price would suggest, this is complex and impressive stuff. Best to enjoy this 89% Grenache, 9% Mourvedre and 2% Syrah with grilled meats, robust mushroom dishes and or Turkish lamb kabob. Most of the grapes for this wine comes from a cooler site near Greenfield with mixed soils, lots of sunny days, cool breezes and cold nights equals a damn good expression of Grenache and this one will surprise your Rhone loving friends, drink over the next 2 to 5 years.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2014 Tiberio, Pecorino Colline Pescaresi IGP, Abruzzo Italy.
The beautiful and vivid Tiberio Pecorino 2014 is bursting with vibrant flavors and brightness with subtle richness of texture. This is certainly one of the finest examples of this varietal available, Pecorino is a small berried grape mostly found in the hillsides of parts of Abruzzo and the Marche, it’s a small yields has not made it a fan favorite among growers, but it’s quality has seen it’s fortunes rise in recent years with many winemakers making wonderful expressions of it, like this one from Tiberio. Fresh with tangy citrus, melon, white peach and spicy herbs along with chalky stone, light mineral notes and white flower aromas make Tiberio’s 2014 Pecorino a real joy in the glass and great with seafood, cheeses and poultry. With air a hint of oily glycerin comes through, giving a feel similar to that of Roussanne but with more zesty acidity and without heaviness. Tiberio makes a superb lineup of wines with this Pecorino being my personal favorite, though I also love Cristiana Tiberio’s other wines as well, including her full bodied Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo rosato. Tiberio is heading towards biodynamic and Cristiana’s resume has an impressive list of top producers on it, including Joly, Selosse, Egon Muller, as well as making wines in Chablis and in Australia. This is a label to watch and these 2014’s look to be a breakthrough vintage, drink this Pecorino over the next 3 to 5 years, though I enjoy it right now and think it shows it’s finest character as it is, though it should gather mouth feel and deeper fruit over time, maybe including golden apple and fig, regardless this is well made and inspiring wine, enjoy.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Onward, Pétillant-Naturel, Malvasia Bianca Sparkling Wine, Suisun Valley.
One of the best California Pet-Nats, Onward’s Malvasia Bianca sparkling white is intensely dry and vibrant with a racy mouse and fine aromatics. Faith Armstrong-Foster, winemaker, crafts some lovely wines, her Pinots are her signature wines, they are lighter and fresh in style with loads of cool climate charm and character, but for pure fun and zesty enjoyment you’ll want to find her Petillant-Naturel, a bubbles that is from high acid early picked grapes and fermented with natural yeasts, no additives or sugar used and the wine finishes in bottle with lots of fine lees, which adds to the complexity, though leaves a slightly clouded appearance, which I find more interesting. This crown cap finished, pop-top, sparkler has lots of zing with pretty jasmine flowers, minty basil, green apple and a core of lime fruit along with white pepper, melon and white licorice. The mousse gives a touch of creaminess, but this is severely dry and crisp with a low alcohol feel, making for a refreshing experience. You’ll want to enjoy this Pet-Nat all day long, but don’t forget to try it with cuisine, it is gorgeous with sushi, oysters and especially cool with light seafood pasta. This is additive stuff that you’ll find reasons to open, it is perfect for everyday use and for weekend fun, it’s great for starting an evening or meal and any casual celebration. I’ve tried a few vintages now, but this 2015 is the best yet from Onward, drink over the next year or so.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2015 Azienda Santa Barbara, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Marche, Italy.
This stainless steel fermented and aged crisp light Verdicchio is a pure and bright white that without any bells or whistles really pleases and is a refreshing comfort wine for summer time and seafood or picnics. This Verdicchio is rises above the mediocre and highlights it’s Marche terroir, grown on sandy tuff, white chalky dust, this vibrant white gives plenty of classic zingy citrus and unripe apple along with green almond, mineral spice and lime flower. This 2015 is vivid with good ripeness avoiding the harsh bitter elements that can be found in this grape and giving a certain roundness on the palate without taking away from the pop of acidity and hint of spritz. This particular cuvee is an exclusive for importer Kermit Lynch and has it’s own label for the American market made from 30 year old vines in the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi zone, and is a remarkable value, Azienda Santa Barbara really nailed this one and it shines with fine detail and quality in an understated package. This zesty little white gets even better with clams and or oysters, either alone or with pasta and like Gruner Veltliner is very pleasant with mixed greens and or cheeses. This is well worth the price and is easy to quaff, it will leave you dreaming of the Adriatic and the ancient hill top towns along Italy’s north eastern coast, brilliant and simple stuff, drink now.
($13 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2014 Envinate, Albahra, Vinos Mediterraneos, Almansa, Spain.
Grown at high elevation above the town of Albacete this red from arid southern Spain is made by the Envinate (make wine by yourself) team, a group of four college friends that are from many different regions of Spain, but wanted to make wine together, so they created Envinate to explore crafting small lots of wine from their home regions. The group includes one of my favorite winemakers from the Canary Islands, Roberto Santana of Suertes del Marques along with his talented friends Alfonso Torrente of Ribeira Sacra, Laura Ramos of Murcia and from the home of this Albahra, Jose Martinez of Almansa. The 2014 Envinate Albahra is a pure Alicante Bouchet, also known as Garnacha Tintorera, this dark grape is one of the few varietals that has red pulp and juice, it was fermented and aged in cement vats, no wood was used or needed, with about 50% whole cluster and native yeasts, it is a lovely and earthy fresh red with loads of character and detail. The grapes are from a single vineyard of 30 year old vines on chalky soils mixed with clay and ancient seabed, the 800 meters elevation helps with natural cooling and allows for a balanced wine with the swing in daytime and nighttime temps keeping a sense of vibrancy and gentile winemaking and short maceration helps soften tannins and make for a wine that is fresh and easy to quaff. The 2014 Albahra shows blackberry, cherry and dusty plum fruits, with peppery spices, crushed flowers, anise, hints of mineral, wild mushroom and sticky lavender in a medium weight wine that has texture and flair, but is also not complicated or fussy in style, it is Cotes du Rhone like, though maybe a bit more exotic, great with a slight chill on it and perfect with paella and or BBQ’s. This wine is the super value in the Envinate lineup, but if you want some rare stuff, be sure to check out their Canary Islands and the Mencia wines of the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, these are great winemakers and amazing wines!
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive