2009 Domaine Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France.
This pure Syrah is clear and defined with supple fruit and beautiful balance and depth. Graillot makes one of the finest Crozes out there that delivers great quality for a more than fair price, so while it is available grab a few bottles! This pretty wine starts with violets, garrique, game and boysenberry leads to a vibrant palate of the same plus kirsch, licorice, truffle and lots of blueberry with touches of savory currant, cherry and pepper spice. The fruit and spice lingers on the bright and fresh finish which highlights the acidity that gives this wine such life and makes me believe it has a good 10 years of drinking ahead. I have loved Graillot Syrah for many years and adored the 1999, 2005 and 2007, but I just might like this one best of all, it is worth searching out and putting a few away.
($35-40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Freeman, Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast.
Last year this wine was one of the best deals around, but I think this 2010 goes a step beyond and is far more pleasing and lovely, kudos to Ken and Akiko Freeman Freeman and Ed Kurtzman their winemaker/consultant for making a beautiful and vibrant Pinot is a difficult vintage. Kurtzman, who also makes Roar, August West and Sandler has again raised his game and found a sublime balance in this wine that shows bright fruit, sweet perfume and round silky richness. The nose shows rose petals and hints of violets with touches of smoke, vanilla and tangy red fruits leading to a palate of raspberry, black cherry and fresh plums, while tea spices and cranberry play in the background. The acidity is lifting and gives vigor and focus and the sweet toasty oak plays perfectly with the whole and everything comes together in seamless layers. Drink over the next 3 or 4 years, and be rewarded.
($44 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Release April 1, 2012
2007 Heitz Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon “Martha’s Vineyard” (Color Label) Napa Valley.
With the Color label (only used in the best of years), the 2007 Heitz Martha’s is telling you there is something special in the bottle, like the legends 1974, 1985 and 1997, and this is a true Napa Classic with it’s own hallmark characteristics and unique terroir. The nose starts with black currants, smoke, licorice and vanilla leading to that classic palate of minty chocolate, think dark coco and peppermint, boysenberry, blackberry, coconut, briar and cedar spice with creamy Limousin oak toast all wrapped in fine firm tannins. The finish lingers on and there is plenty of vibrant life is this top notch Cabernet Sauvignon. While the price is not easy on the wallet, this is a fantastic Martha’s and most likely be a huge collector’s hit, and from what I tasted could rival the best vintages of this wine.
($200+ Est.) 95-97 Points, grapelive
2009 Peay Vineyards, Syrah “Les Titans” Estate Sonoma Coast.
Nick and Andy Peay, along with winemaker Vanessa Wong have with out question produced, and better yet crafted a glorious Syrah that is truly world class and sublime with the layers and complexity of top Northern Rhone wines, yet has the richness of fruit worthy of Sine Qua Non or Alban, though much more elegant and lower in alcohol. Wong, who has Lafite and Peter Michael on her CV, is at the top of her game and her wines show finesse and depth that must be considered world class, with grapes grown in extreme conditions in the wild Sonoma Coast region that makes life very tricky indeed, but the rewards are amazing, not just this dynamic Syrah, but also her lovely Pinot Noirs, especially the Scallop Shelf and Ama. This is a winery to not only watch, but also one to collect now, as it still somehow is flying under the radar! The 2009 Peay “Les Titans” Syrah is darkly brooding and perfumed with violets, earthy spices, smoke and game leading to a vibrant palate of boysenberry, blueberry and plum with hints of cherry liqueur, cracked pepper and a meaty essence. Subtle wood and lifting acidity add to the charms and the finish goes on and on with touches of licorice and chalky mineral tones, that linger with the black fruits. This is a fantastic and beautiful Syrah that should develop nicely for another 3 or 4 years, don’t miss it.
($50 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2006 Canalicchio Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscan Red, Italy.
Now this is BRUNELLO, and wow is this good, Canalicchio really fashioned a fantastic wine from a great vintage that has everything you’d ever want from Sangiovese in spades. While all the talk is about the new 2007 Brunello di Montalcino(s) that are just now reaching the market, some wonderful 2006 are sneaking in under the radar like this Tre Bicchieri winner from one of the great vintages. I thought Canalicchio’s 2001 and 2004 wines were super, but they seemed to have a bit of rustic hard edges not found in this 2006, this Brunello is seamless and rewarding to drink and shows wonderful focus and depth. The nose lights up with dried flowers, sweet herbs, blonde tobacco and wild strawberry essence before a rich and lively palate of red currants, plums and black cherries with licorice, mineral notes and cedary spices. Dark black fruits emerge with air and weight, but fine tannins keep things firmly in check and balanced acidity makes everything vivid and lifts the energy. This Tuscan red has plenty of years ahead of it, even though it would be a tough task to not drink it sooner rather than later.
($75 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine du Grand Montmirail, Vacqueyras, Rhone Red, France.
With prices of Chateauneuf out of sight, and Gigondas getting up in the $50 range, it is awesome to find a stunning Rhone from the 2010 vintage still in the $20-25 area, and this Vacqueyras has it all and is very Chateauneuf like with plenty of depth, mineral tones and lush richness. With fresh acidity and peppery spices this wine just keeps getting more and more interesting as it opens in the glass, along with licorice, lavender, dried flowers and baked earth it shows layers of complexity with dark plum, boysenberry and bitter chocolate notes. This wine is a no brainer home run, and is a must for those that love things Rhoney, especially Grenache fans. The other black grapes in the mix add class and subtle meaty notes, but everything is smoothly pure in this Grenache based wine, with just the perfect amount of Syrah and Mourvedre adding to the whole. No question, the 2010 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Vacqueyras is one of the best deals of the vintage so far, don’t miss this gem.
($22 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Avail. at www.sfwtc.com ($18.95)
2010 Drew Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir “Morning Dew Ranch Vineyard” Anderson Valley.
Bert Williams, former Williams Seylem legend, owns and farms Morning Dew Ranch in the Anderson Valley and sells grapes and is making a little wine as well, but it is Jason Drew of Drew Family Vineyards that has made what is so far the best Pinot from this site in my opinion. After tasting a few others over the past two years, this 2010 Drew Morning Dew is the only one that really wowed me with it’s structure, texture and length, this is the real deal and will certainly get even better in the bottle over the next couple of years. Like Copain, the Drew wines have evolved in the last three years and I think have found a remarkable niche and style that should serve them well in the future and I was left very impressed after tasting the the 2009 and 2010 releases from Jason and Molly Drew, especially this Morning Dew and the 2010 Gatekeepers Pinot. While 2010 was difficult in a way, much like what Burgundy has to deal with every other vintage or so, it has really given some amazing wines, even if they are lighter and more delicate than we are used to in California, especially in the Sonoma and Anderson Valley. These wines show a lively vigor and elegant nature that has really caught on with the younger generation and the born again Burgundy lovers. The 2010 Drew Morning Dew Ranch sparkles with fresh acidity and rose petal perfume before a taught palate of cherry, raspberry and plum fruit with zesty lavender, tea spices and soft wood notes. The wine really picks it up a notch after gaining some air time and decanting brings it all out and gives stunning length and detail, this is a class act.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2009 Domaine de Montille, Bourgogne Rouge (Pinot Noir) Red Burgundy, France.
This entry level Burgundy from Domaine de Montille comes from mostly Premier Cru sites in the Beaune area and 100% de-stemmed giving just the purest of fruit essences and makes for a wonderfully fresh Pinot that still has length, depth and grip to age as well. While lots of people have gone back and forth on the 2009 vintage and worried about the lack of life and acidity, there is no question it is a great vintage to buy to drink short term and this lovely wine is plenty serious to turn on any Burgundy lover. The nose is ripe with perfume and almost a gamay fruit tone before settling into a clear and delightful palate of cherry and red currant with tea and baking spices plus subtle mineral notes. There is hints of game, truffle and earth to keep it interesting, but the lush fruit fills the mouth and lingers on the finish. I should imagine this wine should last 10 years it might be more fun to drink over the next 2 to 5 years, and if you want to put something in the cellar you might get one of the Domaine de Montille Premier Crus all of which are crafted to last ages.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
Grapelive Wine of the Day
By Kerry Winslow
2009 Chateau Soucherie, Anjou Rouge, Loire Valley, France.
This is a single-vineyard cuvée from an old vines parcel that fronts the Château. with the soils a mix of limestone, sand and clay Soucherie’s Cabernet Franc is a marvel of balance, complexity and richness. The grapes for this cuvee are destemmed, then they are fermented in cuve giving the wine a pureness and chalky mineral essence that makes it stand out. Unfined and unfiltered the wine was bottled after 24 months in barrel, but there is not a trance of overt wood and nothing but the graceful highlights ever comes out. This wine is a stunning example of Cabernet Franc at it’s best with dark floral perfume, a hint of game and spice and lush red and black fruits with lots of life and minerally goodness. Chateau Soucherie’s 2009 Anjou Rouge is utterly fantastic and a nearly perfect wine of terroir and focus with vibrant and seamless layers, it is a must find for and Franc lovers and a great wine to introduce one’s self to this beautiful grape and region.
($18 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
Wine of the Day
By Kerry Winslow
2010 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Estate QbA, Nahe, Germany.
In my mind, it is hard to get a better $25 wine than this one, really Donnhoff makes some fantastic wines and this dry QbA Riesling is a super wine and a great value. The 2010 vintage is full of extract and vibrant bracing acidity and this wine starts out with lots of zingy tangy flavors, like lemon/lime, tangerine and apricot with lots of stoney mineral and peach pit. Given air and time in the glass the body becomes fuller and a touch of sweetness comes forward with a touch of candied pineapple and green apples while a subtle whiff of petrol also lingers in the background. With the structure and extract this Riesling has lots of staying power and should age nicely for 10 or so years, I just might a few away myself, even though I adore it now. I had tasted this wine last June and was unsure how things would develop, well, now I am more than convinced, this is a sublime example of quality Riesling at a bargain price.
($26 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
Available at www.sfwtc.com ($23.95)