Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Review:

By Kerry Winslow

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rudiussyrah.jpg2007 Rudius Syrah “Emerald Pool” Alder Springs, Mendocino County.
Very Cote-Rotie like with lots of violets, blueberry, boysenberry and cassis, hints of meat and spice add to this elegant Syrah. Jeff Ames, winemaker at Tor and one of the hottest consultants in Napa, crafted this wine in a most natural fashion, all natural yeast and small bins used for fermentation were the original picking bins, so no harsh pumping or transfers were used. The “Emerald Pool” has wonderful life and texture and the finish is remarkably long and rich. I would love to have this wine in a line up of top Cote-Roties, tried blind, as I’m sure it would surprise and amaze in that company. This is a sublime wine and one I hope to get more of myself!
($45 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Review

By Kerry Winslow

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dujacgevrey.jpg2006 Dujac Fils & Fere Gevrey-Chambertin Red Burgundy.
This Gevrey is bigger and firmer than the Domaine Morey with an earthier and sexier edge to it, and though it is not as delicate it does have impressive depth and pureness. The nose is truffle, wild flowers, smoky sweet oak spices, cedar and game with a lush and vibrant palate of cherry, plum and blueberry fruit with baking spice, mineral notes, clove and vanilla in the background. This is a rich and intense Burgundy, but opens to reveal rose petals and freshness when given air, changing and intriguing with every sip. This wine is a great value for what you get, especially in its class, for a fine Burgundy.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Day
By Kerry Winslow


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2009 Sheldon “La Naris” Roussanne/Viognier, Sonoma Coast.


2009 Sheldon La Naris

This serious and sexy white has vibrant flavors and wonderful texture, and is fast becoming a favorite for most interesting domestic white of the year! Ever since tasting this beauty in barrel I’ve been crazy for her, the nose is more restrained now in bottle, but should get more perfumy with a bit more time, but the layers of stone fruit are amazing and are very Chateauneuf blanc like with apricot, white peach, pear, tangerine, quince, mineral, spice and a touch of tropical fruits. This white had zest and tangy notes, but is lush and round on the palate with a slight creamy/oily feel like a Hermitage blanc, all in balance and with real depth. La Naris is a gem and gives lots of pleasure, good job Sheldon’s, kudos.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Special Review

Grapelive Special Review: Rudius

By Kerry Winslow


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rudius08.jpg2008 Rudius Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.
I waited a long time to try Rudius Cabernet, and built up a powerful expectation, and still this wine blew me away! Jeff Ames, winemaker, crafted a real gem here with Cabernet Fruit from the famed Beckstoffer-George III Vineyard and a bit of Cab Franc that just adds to the wonders of this wine. The nose is is tight still, but gives seductive hints of what is to come, wildflowers and perfume, subtle oak shadings, graphite and blueberry all mingle with red currant before a rich palate of cassis, plum, blackberry and cherry fruits. There is a nice dancing mineral streak, tobacco leaf and licorice note that thrill as well. Plus a touch of liqueur, spice and vanilla that linger make this Cabernet something unique, and it overall seems like you not be far off if you compare it to Bond (Harlan) and Cheval Blanc if you mixed them together. If that comes across as high praise, then it would be as it was meant, this is a great wine period. In simple terms, get it! I’m sure it will only get better in the following 3-5 years, so be sure to lock a few away, even though it is beautiful now.
($65 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive


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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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groschambolle.jpg2007 Michel Gros Chambolle-Musigny Red Burgundy.
This is Chambolle at its charming best with lovely perfume and elegant lively fruit, not a blockbuster or a long term keeper, but a wonderful ready to drink Burgundy. Michel Gros has really come of age with his current line up and the quality of the 2007 is easy to spot, especially in this textured Chambolle-Musigny. The nose lights up your face with fresh roses and violets, and the palate is like watching a Ballerina in top form with cherry, plum and currant fruits plus a lush silky feel. This is a seductive red Burgundy to enjoy now and for the next 3 years, highly recommended.

($60 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Special Report

 The World is Waiting for…. Cru Beaujolais? Yes it is!
By Kerry Winslow

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kwcrubeaujolais1.jpgThe 2009 vintage in Beaujolais has been hailed as the greatest ever and that it would forever change the world sees Beaujolais. All of us wine geeks have been eagerly waiting to see the Cru wines, after falling in love with the vintage through the lowly Nouveau and village Beaujolais, which were charming and seriously good. Now, the Cru’s are finally showing up and look to be snapped up quickly. Kermit Lynch, a visionary importer and wine lover, discovered a flock of passionate and fanatical producers in the region and has for years touted the quality and wonders of the region. I have enjoyed many of these wines over the last five or six vintages and was very impressed, so my interest in 2009 is even more intense after seeing what these guys can do even in so-so years. Many of the grower/winemakers decided to crop for fruit intensity and quality from their Cru sites that have old Gamay vines and this has paid off in spades with very important wine critics now clamoring to get their hands and palates on these wines.

Gamay is a very fruity and flavorful grape and is the main red grape of the Beaujolais region, though there has been some serious Pinot Noir plantings in recent years as some Burgundy producers look for new sites and less expensive areas to grow vines. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean the ripping out of Gamay or that the prices soar for old vine Cru wines. Gamay tastes of strawberries, plum and tangy currants with a cherry candy like essense, and I am reminded of strawberries dipped in brown sugar and the nose is floral, but with a hit of summer hay bales. Those are generic describtions for basic Gamay wines, and just give an idea of flavors one finds in the grape. The Cru wines drink much more like a fine Pinot Noir or Premier Cru Burgundy if you like with extra depth, earthy compontents less strawberry fruitiness and more tannin strength. There can also be a more woody feel and firmer structure for sure to hold things together and allow for extended cellaring.

In the 2005 and 2006 vintages I found some amazing Cotes-de-Brouilly wines, especially the earthy and complex Chateau Thivin Crus, and in 2007 I was completely astonished by the Morgon’s of Marcel Lapierre and Jean Foillard. The Foillard was a revelation; here was a Cote-de-Py Morgon Cru Beaujolais that was as good if not better than a Vosne-Romanee or Nuits-St.-Georges Burgundy, a wine of depth, character, elegance and vigor to spare. Why was no one talking about these wines? I was blown away, and I fell in love with Brouilly and Morgon, and I still am. Even the difficult 2008 vintage did nothing to stop me from finding a great wine from these areas, in fact I’m still enjoying the 2007 and 2008 Lapierre when I find them.

But, it is 2009 that has got the buzz and has captured the world’s attention, and finally I got a chance to taste a full blooded Cru Morgon and I can say that without a doubt this is a game changer vintage for the much maligned Beaujolais and the rush is on to get these wines. I got my greedy little hands on a sample of another Kermit Lynch producer, Thevenet and his fantastic 2009 Morgon Vieilles Vignes. Robert Parker’s man in France got his hands on this wine well below I did, of course, and raved about it giving it a pre-release 93+ Points, so I am not going to break any news here, but I can tell you I agree with David Schildknecht (of Parker’s Wine Advocate) this is a wonderful wine, and I would go a bit farther and give it a point more even. He didn’t review the final blend even and it has now had some time to settle and come together, so it now shows more fullness and complexity.

Jean-Paul Thevenet looks set to be getting the jump on the California market by being first out the gate, but even with high expectations and a huge amount of critical interest, the vintage is living up to the hype. I still wonder if this will turn into big sales success outside of us wine geeks, the jury is out and will be for a while yet as the main bulk of these wines is not going to hit the market for a few more months. We will be drinking 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau well before the best old vine Gamay hit our shores, but at least there is hope that we will have them to go with our Christmas dinners! (And to have in our cellar!)

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thevenet09.jpg2009 Thevenet Morgon Vieilles Vignes Cru Beaujolais, France.
Never has there been so much interest and expectation in Beaujolais, and this is one of the first estate Cru Beaujolais that I’ve tried, making it all that much more pressured to perform. And, it does perform, and it delivers on that huge promise that the vintage is one of the best ever for the region. I have not seen in my time in the wine business this kind of quality and depth in a vintage of Beaujolais, and this Morgon shows it all with glorious fruit, complexity and structure. Jean-Paul Thevenet one of the stars in Kermit Lynch’s great portfolio of Cru Beaujolais winegrowers and his old vine Gamay is a marvel to behold. This exotic Beaujolais shows a nose full of wildflowers, roses and earthy mint with an intense palate of rich fruit and firm structure, but opens to give round cherry, plum and currant layers with a background of strawberries. The layered flavors are alive and focused with depth and complexities that seem more Premier Cru Nuits-St.-Georges than Cru Beajolais such is the beauty of Thevenet’s terroir and the perfection of the vintage.  Hard to not drink now, but should get even better with another year or so of age and hold for 5 to 7 years easy. ($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Special Review

Grapelive Special Review

By Kerry Winslow

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donum07.jpg2007 Donum Estate Pinot Noir Carneros.
I keep falling for this wine more with every vintage, and this 2007 Donum Carneros just might be the best yet, and it has really improved in the last 6 months! I’ve tasted this vintage many times now and it just gets more impressive with each go. Last year I quite liked their Russian River offering, and it was hard to choose between them, but this year is no contest with the Carneros easily taking the crown. The nose is full of wildflowers, sweet smoke, and red berries before a lush and silky palate of raspberry, plum and candied cherries. The round and smooth texture gives the wine a real fullness and warmth, but everything is alive and vibrant too. Hints of truffle, mocha and tea spices all dance in the background with a touch of mineral and ending with vanilla. This wine is modern and ripe, though it has something elegant and intriguingly Burgundy like about it, and there isn’t much made. ($67 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest

Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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uriondo.jpg2009 Uriondo Bizkaiko Txakolina Spanish Basque White.
This pure and vibrant Txakolina was made from 70% Mune Mahatsa and 30% Txori Mahatsa and fermented in stainless tanks that intensified the bright crispness and citrus flavors. The palate is tangy with lots of green apple and lime with vigorous acidity and zest, plus hints of mineral, chalk and a sense of the ocean. With 11.5% alcohol and light body this white is perfect for oysters and hot days, is is one of the most vivid and refreshing whites out there! I’ve always had a soft spot for Txakolina whites and this one brought that bias back in a big way.

($19 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: September 26

Grapelive Weekend Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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stoplmanoriginals08.jpg2008 Stolpman Syrah “The Originals” Estate, Santa Ynez Valley.
The Stolpman Syrah(s) from the 2008 vintage all are lovely wines and the vintage looks to be one of the best yet for this winery. This wine “The Originals” is from the first blocks of Syrah vines and selected for quality making for a unique cuvee. The clones are a mix of Davis, Tablas and Alban and add to the complexity in this perfumed and meaty Syrah. As with the Estate Syrah, Stolpman co-ferments with the must of Roussanne to help extract color in this dark and teeth staining red. The nose is earthy with violets, truffle and crushed coffee beans before a rich palate of boysenberry, blueberry and black cherry with cassis, savory currant, game and French herbs. The oak is giving with subtle vanilla and smoke while adding to the roundness to the wine. There is a touch of pepper and the balance is very good with just enough acidity to keep things vivid and fresh, look forward to many good years ahead!
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Special Review

Grapelive International Grenache Day Review

By Kerry Winslow

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pallieresracines.jpg2007 Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas “Les Racines” Rhone Red, France.
Kermit Lynch and Brunier family own and run Les Pallieres and it is one of the finest estates in the Southern Rhone, making world class reds from Gigondas from old Grenache vines, plus some other interesting grapes that find their way into the wines. But, it is all about Grenache and the richly lush fruit and peppery spice flavors. 2007 was one of the greatest vintages on record for the south and nearly perfect for Grenache, which showed massive fruit and high alcohol levels, but still retained vibrant flavors and freshness through firm acidity. The nose is like wildflowers, sweet crushed red berries with a hint of earth and game, but it is more about sweet ripeness in this amazing vintage. The palate is full and flowing with strawberry jam, cracked pepper, boysenberry, grenadine and chalky minerals. This is a mega wine that will age well and be better still in a few years, but I loved it right away and doubt I could keep my hands off it for long. ($36-42 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive
Available at San Francisco Wine Trading Company. SFWTC.com $34.95 each

www.sfwtc.com

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