Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 11, 2016

2012pontet2012 Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux, France.
The Tesseron’s Chateau Pontet-Canet is truly amongst the best wines of the world and unique, since they took over this estate in 1975 the family has led the quality of this Pauillac to it’s greatest heights, and it has always been a wine I’ve admired for it’s sense of place, power and presence. For me the Pontet-Canet 2000 and 2001 might just be the wines of the vintage and were some of my greatest young Bordeaux experiences, especially the 2001, which for me rivaled any of the first growths, and while I love Angelus 2000, the Pontet-Canet blows away the 2000 wines of Mouton and Lafite from the same area! Now, it is harder for me the justify the purchase of Pontet-Canet with the current prices, though when I do splurge this one is near the top of my list, along with Ridge’s Monte Bello and Meo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanee, that said, this 2012 is a remarkable value considering the prices of 2009 and 2010 versions, as the level of quality here in the 2012 is almost to that standard! When you judge this wine against Joseph Phelps Insignia, Opus One, Harlan Estate, Lafite, Latour and or Mouton then this wine from Pontet-Canet really does stands out for the price, and this 2012 offers up everything you’d ever want from a Bordeaux and more with layers of opulence, richness and terroir detail. The Tesseron’s have gone all biodyaminc, are using cement vats or concrete amphorae with clay/dirt that comes from the estate and use less new wood than their neighbors to achieve a pureness and a style that allows their wines to stand out, and it does. The make follows the planted vines, there is about 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot in the blend, though Cabernet Sauvignon is the main thrust and focus and it obviously takes center stage in this wine much in the same way as Chateau Latour, which Chateau Pontet-Canet most resembles in my opinion, though with slightly less smoky oak influence. The 2012 Pontet-Canet is deeply purple with a black core and garnet edges, opaque and dense in the glass, it needs decanting at this stage and I recently tasted from thee separate bottles, all of which performed beyond my expectations, it shows wonderfully integrated black and red fruits, firm, but fine tannin and glorious length and flair. The palate is thick, but divinely graceful with earthy complexity and pumps out blackberry, dark currant, plum and black cherry fruits as well as loamy earth notes, mineral tones, licorice, sweet tobacco leaf and black olive along with a haunting crushed violet and cinnamon spice. There is some bitter coco, smoky vanilla and cedary wood shading, but they really add to the overall pleasure and don’t intrude on the balance and form of this Bordeaux, this is elegant, poised and beautifully crafted stuff, racy, sexy and soulful, it brings back my love of Bordeaux in a rush of hedonism, this full bodied and expressive Pontet-Canet should go for 25 years or more with ease, though can be enjoyed young, best from 2018 to 2032.
($160+) Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 10, 2016

2015glam2015 Alfredo Maestro, Garnacha “El Rey del Glam” Spain.
Coming from two select plots of organic vines near his home in Penafel, Alfredo Maestro’s El Rey del Glam 2015 is a wonderful and easy to love Grenache done in a fresh Carbonic juicy style. Set in the Castilla region not from from Madrid, these vines, one block from Navarredondilla and the block in Penafiel get long warm days and cool nights, making for decedent ripe flavors, but with enough acidity to keep these fresh, and Maestro in this wine is looking for fun and lighter refreshment. The soils here are perfect for this wine with veins of granite, clay rich and with a calcareous backbone giving the wines perfume, spice and mineral tones to go with the density of the fruit from the heat of the summers here, which also favors Garnacha, like it does in the southern Rhone. The 2015 El Rey del Glam is flamboyant and fruity, as it’s label suggests! Got to love Alfredo’s playfulness with this succulent Garnacha, it shows red raspberry, pomegranate and fresh picked strawberry fruits as well with the carbonic candied cherry in the background along with a light dusting of cinnamon, pepper, gravelly stones and flinty earthiness. With air, best to serve this almost Beaujolais like red a touch chilled, it opens open on the nose with floral detail and hints of licorice and tangy currant. This all natural, stainless tank raised, native yeast fermented Garnacha saw no SO2 (sulfur) added and is made for early and often drinking, it is the most complex and impressive vintage to date of the El Rey del Glam, and is wonderfully enjoyable. Drink now!
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 9, 2016

2015chidainebreuil2015 Francois Chidaine, Montlouis Sur Loire, Clos du Breuil, Loire Valley, France.
The latest Chidaine Chenins are wonderfully open, opulent and vibrant expressions of place and varietal, from the warm 2015 vintage these wines show a richness without losing their vibrancy and vitality, especially charming and compelling is the Montlouis sur Loire Clos du Breuil. Chidaine, certified biodynamic is a follower of Nicolas Joly, but with a more hedonistic style, his wines always seem to have a bit more raciness and body, in particular this Clos du Breuil always feels luxurious, textured and exotic, though vigorous with energy and mineral tones. Grown on Silex and clay soils, the Clos du Breuil is from vines between 40 and 80 years old, it was hand harvested and native yeast fermented and then raised in a combination of stainless vats and neutral (used) demi-muid French oak cask, it’s a Sec or Dry style that is given to gracefully layers and subtle aromatics. This 2015 really does it all with stunning length and detail, it shines bright, golden in the glass with light white flowers, citrus notes, peach and flinty/chalky stones leading the way with a touch of tropical notes and good density without being heavy, there is none of the honey and hay character you can find in Montlouis wines here, this Clos du Breuil focused, succulent and pure with delicate steely liquid mineral and a hint of quince and key lime. These 2015 Chidaines are lovely and impressive wines, some of the best I can remember with this Clos du Breuil Montlouis leading the way, drink over the next 5 to 10 years.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 8, 2016

2015jjchristoffelurzigerwurzgarten2015 Weingut Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, Riesling Spatlese, Urziger Wurzgarten, Mosel Germany.
From steep slate slopes above the Mosel, the Urziger Wurzgarten is one of the world’s greatest vineyards, and Robert Eymael is one of Germany’s best winemakers, and his crafts these J. J. Christoffel wines from ungrafted 100 year old Riesling vines, if there ever was a doubt about terroir these wines remove it, there is no question the places marks these wines. The glorious and exotic 2015 Christoffel Spatlese Urziger Wurzgarten is mind-blowing in it’s complex delicacy and dreamy layers, this is another wine that goes beyond it’s must weight and sugar, this is a true classic and inspirational Riesling with gorgeous detail and heavenly transparency with layers of refined fruit, spice, savory/saline elements, subtle density and graceful length that put this Mosel in league with Willi Shafer, Selbach-Oster and the top crus of Loosen. I’ve long been a fan of the J. J. Christoffel wines and of Eymael, who also has the famed Monchhof winery, these are some of the most exciting Rieslings every vintage, but with 2015, you get an even more special vintage and wine, especially this one in particular, as it has extra depth in every area and plays to an inner beauty and lightness that sets it apart. The Wurzgarten is dramatic in location with intensely steep slope face perfectly to catch the sun and reflection off the Mosel and it has that spicy slate base, but with bright red iron rich volcanic top soil that gives the wines a burst of exotic spice and tropical flavors. The Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben by Eymael 2015 Spatlese Urzier Wurzgarten shines gold in the glass and is wonderfully perfumed with rose petals and gardenia as well as middle eastern and Asian spices along with a steely mineral core that lifts the palate that shows fine and brisk acidity, but also a smooth almost satiny mouth feel, this what you get from the sugar rather than aggressive sweetness, along with dreamy lime blossom, green apple, white peach, tangy apricot and pineapple fruits. The finish is full and lively with amazing clarity and persistence, it’s hard to imagine a better young Riesling with this much verve and character and it’s poise, balance and texture are remarkable with just the perfect amount of hedonistic creamy sweetness, this wine is stunningly seductive and really sexy, drink it over the next 15 to 20 years, it’s amazing now, but has even more potential holding in reserve, best not to miss this one!
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 7, 2016

marguetrosenv Benoit Marguet, Shaman 13, Rose Extra Brut Grand Cru Champagne, France.
Benoît Bonnerave is making some fantastic Champagne from his family holdings, mostly in Ambonnay, but with some parcels in Avize and Bouzy, he took over in 2009 and has gone down the natural and all biodynamic route with a claimed no sulfur winemaking. The family has had an up and down time in the region, at one time they went completely out of business selling to Henriot, before slowing building up again and mostly recently they had to sell off a huge chunk of vineyards to Krug to make ends meet, but Benoit looks to have things running smoothly and his wines are getting the attention they deserve, especially exciting is his Shaman lineup and in particular this Shaman Rose. The Shaman 13 Extra Brut Rose Grand Cru is all from the 2013 vintage and is made up of mostly Chardonnay with a little Pinot Noir for color, it is rich and lavish in mouth feel and decedent in style, but with riveting form and energy, it has almost zero sugar and still it feels full bodied and lavish with loads of brioche, steely mineral, hazelnut, light strawberry, citrus and bright cherry layers. The fine mousse and remarkable length bring out bread dough and beautiful delicate floral details in this Champagne, this is extremely stylish bubbly for the price. These Shaman Marguet Champagnes really show a finessed touch and offer really fine character and while I was stunned by this Rose Shaman 13, the Shaman 12 Extra Brut is also a lovely Champagne full of flavor and elegance, both are ultra compelling and worth looking out for.
($60 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 6, 2016-California Flashback!

1993ridgemonte1993 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains.
At 23 years old the 1993 Ridge Monte Bello is shockingly fresh and youthful, after having this wine a few times in the late nineties and that last time about 10 years ago, it was amazing where this wine is today, I think it must be the best wine from the vintage and maybe the most underrated or overlooked of the Monte Bello, squeezed between the fantastic vintages 1991, 1992 and the ultra glorious 1994, but it certainly has gorgeous sibling years to compare to, and over time I think it has, if not equaled them. 1993 was an odd year, in Napa the pigments were not quite right for the Cabernet and many thought the wines were not as deep or complex, but honestly I found them wonderfully true to varietal and lovely, Caymus didn’t even do a Special Select that year and put all their best juice into their regular Napa bottling, which I drank many of happily, even without the deepest color these wines were solid. That said, Ridge high above Cupertino in the Santa Cruz Mountains did not suffer from any such issues, but back then if Napa had problems the whole vintage was down graded, no matter where you were in the state, so some of these 1993 wines never got the credit they deserved, and that certainly is true of this beautiful 1993 Ridge Monte Bello, ten years ago I tasted it along side 1994 and 1995 with winemaker Eric Baugher, and while the 1994 is and was a masterpiece one of California’s all time legends, the 1993 was very very close to it! Today, or yesterday Dec 5, 2016, tasting it at Ridge from Coravin, it was true stunning in every way with vibrant detail and length, showing purity and class, the deep garnet hued 1993 was 86% Cabernet, 7% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot and was 12.9% Alcohol, it has a real Haut-Brion feel about it with layered elegance and medium/full density showing blackberry, dusty plum, cassis and red cherry fruits, hints of smoke, dark floral notes, cedar and loamy earth as well as mineral tones, tobacco leaf, sage and black licorice lingering with vanilla, blueberry and briar spice. I was blown away at how young it still tasted, vivid and with firm, but supple tannin, this was really an exceptional bottle for sure, but anyone that has this wine still cellared away is going to want to drink it, it is stellar right now, though it should, if like this particular bottle, last another 10 to 15 years easy! It is always a pleasure to taste at Ridge, and to time travel, I’m grateful to everyone at Ridge for a magical winter Monday experience.
($185+ Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 5, 2016

2015krugerrumpfrheinberg2015 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Kabinett, Munsterer Rheinberg, Nahe Germany.
The delicately sweet Kuger-Rumpf Munsterer Rheinberg Kabinett is pure and classic Riesling, but with the lovely markings of this great vintage that shows in complexity and charm throughout this pretty wine, and throughout the whole Kruger-Rumpf lineup. Sitting at Kruger-Rumpf with Stefan Rumpf in October of 2016, while Georg, his son, rushed around the cellar overseeing grapes coming into the winery and taking a moment to play with his infant daughter, I got to take my time and admire the whole range of wines here and got to see the transition behind father and son with my own eyes and with my palate as I sampled wines and enjoyed their company. The Kruger-Rumpf winery located in Bingen, where the Nahe flows into the Rhein, is one of my favorites and I have long been a fan of the authentic and traditional wines here, and I love where the style and focus of the current releases, especially these 2015 Rieslings, which look set the rise the bar for what we expect from Kruger-Rumpf. The 2015 Munsterer Rheinberg Kabinett is a very serious example of terroir drive, mineral loaded Riesling that has a light semi-sweet body that makes for a wonderfully pleasing wine and balanced with elements that hide the sugar level, but allows for a generous fruity character that goes great with various cuisine choices. This Munsterer Rheinberg from very steep slopes and with veins of quartzite and sandy loam shows a forward personality, but has a core of energy and intensity that really gets your heart pumping, and this wine wears it’s origins on it’s sleeve with a bright golden pale hue in the glass and sexy yellow fruits in the mouth with layers of green apple, peach, lemon/lime and yellow roses starting you off along with saline rich stones, steely mineral and exotic tropical notes. With a bit of time in the glass it opens and expands with refined creamy detail without losing it’s vitality and verve, this is a sleeper in the Georg Rumpf’s lineup and well worth searching out, for those that need more intensely dry should look for Rumpf’s Binger Trocken, it’s a killer value as well, but for flexibility and grace this Munsterer Rheinberg Kabinett is the real deal! I love this vibrant and refreshing Riesling, it will only get better too, drink from 2017 to 2028.
($20 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 4, 2016

2013sandronevalmaggiore2013 Luciano Sandrone, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Valmaggiore, Piedmonte Italy.
This polished and modern Nebbiolo has the Sandrone touch and textured mouth feel showing Barolo like character and elegant refinement with some flair. Not your cheapest example of Langhe Nebbiolo, that’s for sure, but certainly a pleasing wine of stylish charm, solid density and length. The Valmaggiore is from a vineyard in Vezza d’Alba, which is in the Roero zone, and is formed by the continued sandy, loamy and marl based soils of Alba as found in Barolo, it was native yeast fermented in small lots, only hand sorted de-stemmed grapes, using stainless steel open top vats with soft maceration and gentile extraction then aged in used large 500L French oak cask for 12 months before being rested in bottle for another 9 months. And even though I might go for Vajra’s Albe Barolo, Davide Rosso’s Giovanni Rosso Barolo and Oddero’s Barolo first in this price range, I really did enjoy this wine and it’s presence in the glass and would certainly recommend it for those looking to explore the Roero wines and for those that want a wine that shows it’s best younger than most, it’s also a great gateway wine to Sandrone’s top crus and with all the classic qualities that make Nebbiolo such a special grape. There’s no question the Sandrone is all about quality and finesse and this lovely 2013 Valmaggiore Nebbiolo d’Alba drinks with the grace, vibrancy and depth of a premier cru Burgundy with pretty details, light perfume, delicate mineral tone and a long persistent finish in a smooth/savvy medium bodied and satiny wine. The 2013 Sandrone Valmaggiore starts with hints of dried violets, rose oil, vanilla, porcini, leather and wild anise as well as poached plum, kirsch, raspberry and earthy tar notes along with flashes of bitter coco and balsamic dipped strawberries. I would not kick this out of my cellar, there is lots to admire here and if I’m honest there are many more true Barolo or Barbaresco that don’t deliver this kind of class for far more dollars, so in many ways it’s price could be considered a value, and I do appreciate the passion and craft behind it’s making, it’s a solid and lovely Nebbiolo, drink from 2016 to 2021.
($50 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 3, 2016

2014brownzin2014 Brown Estate, Zinfandel, Napa Valley.
Located in the remote eastern hills of Napa Valley in the Chiles Valley, Brown Estate is one of the best Zinfandel producers in the state and this 2014 is a gorgeous wine that should win over a whole new legion of fans, it might be my favorite since the 1997! David Brown and his family have now 20 years under their belts making top Zinfandel and a tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, and Brown deserves serious celebration and credit for the triumph of passion, hard work and love of place, Brown’s success is a reflection of all that is great in California and should be cherished, they are great people, making great wines. The 2014 Zinfandel, Brown Estate, starts with beautiful purity of fruit, spice and floral notes with loads of dense raspberry, plum and juicy currant fruit, sweet/ripe smooth tannin and bright briar, Asian spice and anise with a mineral streak and a hint of cedary vanilla laced oak. This richly flavored Zin has impressive mouth feel, lavishness, but is refined, not heavy or flabby, it’s lively and well crafted with focus, drive and balance allowing poised detail and distinct character the shine through, this is wonderful Zin. This Brown 2014 reminds me of a fine Chateauneuf du Pape in style and pleasure, though true California Zinfandel in nature. Brown joins Turley, Bedrock, Ridge and Biale at the height of California Zinfandel and this 2014 looks to go down as legendary, I think most people will absolutely love this vintage and drink it up now or young, but I think it has a voice that lasts and it, like classic Ridge, should age beautifully, getting more interesting and complex over the next decade. Bravo to Brown for 20 years plus of great Zin and to the future, drink this 2014 Estate Zinfandel from 2017 to 2028.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 2, 2016

2013montepelosoaquo2013 Monteprloso, A Quo, Toscana Rosso, Italy.
Fabio Chiarelotto’s Montepeloso, located on the Tuscan Coast near the famed Tua Rita, has become one of the most interesting and enchanting wineries in the region with biodynamic and terroir driven wines. This area has reached critical mass with an amazing selection of wines and winemakers, it all started with Sassicaia and then Ornellaia, but with Tua Rita, Le Macchiole, Aia Vecchia and others this is one of the most prestige areas in Italy, and Montepeloso is right up there with the best. Having met Fabio a few years back, you could see the intensity of his vision and his passion for wine and crafting the best possible expression of place, and his wines certainly have their own style and charm, especially in his base entry level wine the A Quo, which delivers rich detail and texture with delicacy, earthiness and unique character. The A Quo is a blend of Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon mostly along with small amounts of Sangiovese, Marselan (A cross between Grenache & Cabernet Sauvignon) and Alicante Bouschet. The A Quo 2013 is a wonderful and refined red with blueberry, briar spiciness and subtle earthy tones showing plum, wild raspberry, mulberry and currant fruits as well as hints of leather, tobacco leaf, mild cedar, a mix of baking spices and anise. The grapes are expressive and the impact on the palate impressive with good ripe tannin, polished acidity and good length, grown on ancient clay and silex soils the wine, aged 4 months in used French oak, shows the warm of the region along with the Maremma coastal influence that gives the wines it’s terroir and quality. The Wines from Grosseto to Bolgheri on the Tyrrhenian Sea are some of the world’s best, they mix ancient Etruscan grapes with classic French varietals as well as others to create unique and iconic labels, with Montepeloso joining that elite set. Drink this warm vintage 2013 A Quo IGT Tocana Rosso over the next 3 to 5 years, and also look out for Chiarelotto’s top wines like his Gabbro and Nardo, these are incredible wines.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive