Grapelive Latest: Dec. 15

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Martino2006 Fincas Don Martino Malbec Old Vines, Mendoza, Argentina.

This high altitude terroir Malbec is about 3,850 feet above sea level and is from a vineyard on its original (French) rootstock and was (re) planted in 1926 on rocky and alluvial soils. This vintage shows ripe and vibrant fruit and has lush and full-bodied texture with loads of black and red fruit, making for a deep and richly flavored wine. I had not seen, heard of, or tried Martino wines before and was very impressed with the complexity and intensity I found, but also it was just plain good and a joy to discover. It seems they use new French oak only for this cuvee and it certainly gives an elegant and refined touch to this big wine as well as smoothing out the fine tannins, while giving subtle toast, vanilla and sweet smoky notes. The palate is bold and round with lots of black plum, cherry and mixed mountain berry fruits with flashes of chocolate, coffee and licorice. ($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 14

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Roessler

2006 Roessler Chardonnay “Clos Pepe Vineyard” Santa Rita Hills (California).

This is a very classy and elegant style Chardonnay that is crisp and clean, very much like a Premier Cru Chablis with mineral and fresh citrus along with the succulent pear and green apple fruit on the palate. The nose has lemon curd and vanilla as well as some lime flower with a lean palate of pear and white peach fruit before a finish of bread dough, toast and hints of cream and vanilla. There is some Burgundy like layers and touches of hazelnut that give this Chardonnay added interest and I think it still will fill out with some more bottle age. This wine will be overlooked or shunned even by the Rombauer set, but it is a pure and focused wine that has lots going for it, don’t miss out on this gem if you see it at your local wine merchant or restaurant! ($36-42 Est.) 91-92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 12 & 13

Grapelive Weekend Wine

By Kerry Winslow

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La Spinetta

2007 La Spinetta Nebbiolo Langhe Rosso, Piedmonte Red Wine, Italy.This young and tight red is made from the Nebbiolo grape, the same grape that is used in Barolo and Barbaresco, in fact this wine is from fruit sourced from La Spinetta’s Barbaresco sites, mostly from their famed Starderi single vineyard Barbaresco Cru. This is a true Piedmonte Nebbiolo that has intense acidity and tannin, but it opens up with ripe and rich fruit and round flavors. The nose is tarry with rose petals, lavender, licorice and strawberry before a firm palate of cherry, plum, sweet herbs, truffle, and cranberry. The complexities that show on the nose also carry over in the mouth and finish along with cedar, tobacco and oak notes, which give hints of vanilla and baking spices. La Spinetta is one of my favorite wineries and even though I’m a fan, they continue to get better and better, plus they do offer super quality at all their price points, bravo!($30-32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 11

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Miura2007 Miura Pinot Noir Silacci Vineyard, Monterey County (California). *New Release

Emannuel Kemiji’s secret Pinot, the Silacci Vineyard, is one of the most exciting wines to ever come from this vineyard close to the Santa Lucia Highlands, and it is made exclusively from “Pisoni” (cuttings) vines that are from the original “Pisoni Clone” that shows intense dark color, full-bodied power and deep flavors. The 2007 vintage was tiny, and produced grapes that had extra dark pigment and awesome concentration, with Silacci getting that benefit in spades while still holding good acidity since it is one of the coolest sites in the region. Miura’s block of fruit from Silacci, which is hand picked for the clone and exposure, has made some top class wines over the last few years, but this vintage is by far the most impressive and I was amazed at the Syrah like character without losing its Pinot elegance. Honestly, I would have a real problem picking my favorite of the Miura single vineyard Pinots, though I might pick these 2007 Miura Silacci over the Pisoni or Garys’, and that is saying a lot, especial in this stunning vintage. The nose is perfumed and complex with lots of wildflowers, liqueur, violets, meaty bacon and sweet oak notes that lead to a huge palate of thick cherry, blueberry, cassis, plum and mocha. After some air it gathers even more power and rounds out nicely, while it also gets more Pinot like and has plenty of bright, fresh and tangy fruit that keeps the wine from being flabby. There is some interesting graphite, mineral and truffle in the background as well and the finish is very lengthy and has smooth creamy oak and cherry fruit that lingers lively in the mouth. There is a lot going on in this massive Pinot Noir, that makes me want to compare it to a Grand Cru Burgundy, like a Richebourg with a top Cote-Rotie, like a La Landonne, mixed in! ($63-65 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 10

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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bjornstadchard.gif2007 Bjornstad Chardonnay “Porter-Bass Vineyard” Sonoma Coast (California).
Greg Bjornstad is one of the most talented winemakers in California and a super down to earth guy with loads charm, just like his wines! He was at Flowers and Tandem when they were all the rage and now he consults for some cult Pinot labels, as well as doing small lots of his own wine under his own label. Last year he blew me away at the Pinot Daze tasting in San Francisco with his pure and focused Pinot Noirs with his Sonoma Mountain, Van Der Kamp Vineyard, being my top choice and maybe one of my favorite from the 2006 vintage. His Chardonnay’s have always been some of the best around, but this vintage and this vineyard turned out fantastic giving magical flavors and character that are stunningly unique and sublime in balance and very layered. This wine with rival any Chardonnay from anywhere, in fact it is on par with the Peter Michael Chards and many great Burgundies like Puligny Premier Cru or even some Grand Cru! This wine opens with lots of white flowers, kiwi, orange blossom, pear and white peach with a wonderful palate of the same and more, including apple and tropical fruits. There is everything you could ever ask for in a Chardonnay and more, with subtle fig, mineral and vanilla spice adding to the mix as well. ($40-45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 9

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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meyer.gif2007 Meyer-Nakel Spatburgunder “Blauschiefer” Ahr, Germany (Pinot Noir).
I hauled this bottle back from Germany in April of 2009, after visiting the Rheingau and tasting wine from that region. I had tried the 2005 Meyer-Nakel Pinot after hearing it had won the “Best Pinot in the World” tasting in a blind tasting, both in Europe and in England, as reported by Decanter Magazine, and found it elegant and complex. So it was cool to find a bottle of this rare wine in a shop and at a very reasonable price, considering it goes for about $140 a bottle over here when you can find it, I paid $28 Euro for this bottle of 2007 Blauschiefer, and I was really happy. Even after all the hype and hardship of finding a bottle, it was all worth it and it is a stunning Pinot that has layers of silky flavors that are very focused, much like a good Burgundy, almost like a Chambolle-Musigny, but it also shows its Ahr (River) and German terroir with some slate driven flinty mineral notes and strawberry pie that seem unique. 2007 was a tough year for red wine in Germany, so I was ready not to be impressed, and it was quite the opposite in truth, I was almost knocked off my chair! This is a wonderful and complex wine from the “Red Baron” as Meyer-Nakel is know as in German for his noble and full-bodied Pinot Noir (red wines) with glorious perfume, creamy textures and long complex finish. The color is not what you’d find in California, but the depth of flavors would match up nicely against any serious Pinot from anywhere, though more like a fine Oregon vintage with plenty of plum and cherry fruit, mineral spices, blueberry and touches of white pepper, chalk, smoke and vanilla from the perfect use of quality toasted French oak barrels. ( 28 Euro to $140 US) 94 Points, grapelive

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The US prices for this wine would seem too high, though it is at the same quality for price as many fine Burgundy, and I would just consider this wine if you get a chance to visit Germany… There are a few other producers that you might find that are worth trying for quality German Pinot, like Becker and August Kesseler.

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 8

Grapelive Daily Pick
By KerryWinslow

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rochioli07sp.gif2007 Rochioli Pinot Noir “Special Cuvee” Russian River Valley (California).
One of the most famous Pinot Noir houses in California, Rochioli continues to make some of the finest examples from this wonderful grape. I must admit lots of bias here, straight up, I love these wines and am on the fabled “Rochioli Mailing List” and hope to be on it for the rest of my life! It took seven long years to get a spot on the customer list at Rochioli and many, many long drives to their tasting room on Westside Road, near the lovely small town of Healdsburg, on the Russian River in North Sonoma County, to get my two bottle limit when new releases came available. This year I was able to get six bottles of the “Special Cuvee” a small extra lot of Pinot from select barrels, which could be from left over from the regular estate and or the single block wines, it doesn’t matter, even if these were the odds and ends I would never think twice about taking whatever I could get my hands on, and I feel lucky even more now after tasting the 2007 edition. This vintage is perfumed, bright and well put together, with full flavors and great balance, in other words it is just damn good! This pure Pinot Noir is elegant and lush with lots of fruit that includes layers of black cherry, plum, raspberry and spicy boysenberry. More than that it shows wild flowers, tea spice, cola, a briar note, and subtle smoky sweet oak shadings. This is a very fine Pinot Noir that is still tight and fresh, but still has smooth textures and it does open up with air, so drink now and for the next few years. Okay, it is going to be very hard to find and by now the winery and tasting is sold out, but it still is worth a look, and I would suggest you sign up to get on their mailing list, with this economy you just might to be able to get bumped up more quickly than I did. *Because it is hard to find I took 2 rating points of my tasting notes… ($38-65 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 7

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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stolpmansangio.gif2005 Stolpman Sangiovese Estate Santa Ynez Valley (California).
Wow, I must say this rich and balanced wine really surprised me with flavors and style that makes me think of a Tuscan village in bathed in warm sunlight and my mouth water for some aged Pecorino cheese! Usually I find while nice and sometimes interesting, California Sangiovese does not live up to expectations or taste like the Tuscan version, but in this case I could honestly be fooled I think and I really enjoyed this vintage very much. Stolpman grow some good grapes, with Syrah being one of their best, and their own wines from the estate are very impressive, with past vintages of Hilltop Estate Syrah being one of my favorites, and now I’ll add this wine to my list as well. This 2005 Sangiovese just might have gained from having a few years in bottle to develop, as I know I have had Stolpman Sangiovese releases in the past and none sang to me like this vintage did. It has all the right stuff at the moment, it is long, silky and focused, in fact I think it is near perfect as it is, with lots of cherry, raspberry, plum and strawberry fruit on the palate after a nose of sweet dried flowers and herbs, wood and fresh berries. The mouth is lush, but still has bright tangy freshness that keeps everything lively and the finish lingers on and on with subtle oak notes and fruit sweetness. I would like to mention that I would be bigger fan of these lovely wine if it were a bit cheaper and my score reflects that too, I think at $25 I would have added at least 2 more points! ($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 6

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Madeleine

2007 Madeleine “Chapitre III – Retour En Vallee Des Rois” Cabernet Franc, California.Damien Georis, ex-Bordeaux winemaker, is a gifted talent that has found a home in Carmel Valley (Monterey Peninsula, CA) and is hand-crafting some wonderful wines under his own Madeleine label, as well as being the head winemaker for Georis Winery, (no relation)in Carmel Valley. He created a stir a few years back when his premier release hit the local market here, no one had thought a pure and Loire style Cabernet Franc could be this good and it sold out very quickly. Then he turned to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in his second release, as he couldn’t source any Franc that could give him what he wanted, but now it is back and his label proclaims (in French) a return of the “Valley of Kings” for his third release (Chapter 3) and it is a royal wine indeed! This vintage is much riper and much more powerful than the last 2 or 3 so this wine is much, much bigger and intense than Damien’s earlier wines. The 2007 Madeleine is more like a Napa or Bordeaux wine than the Loire Valley, (since this vintage is 90 % Napa Valley fruit) with rich and thick fruit and heavy texture, but it still shows the class and balance that are his trademark. This Cabernet Franc shows bold red berry, plum and black cherry fruit on the palate with hints of dried flowers, peppery spices, cassis, mocha and sweet oak notes. This wine is young and full-bodied, almost Port-like, but it does open up and turns elegant and deep. That said, I’d give it a short term in the cellar or enjoy its bold youth with steak or lamb. This is a very impressive effort! ($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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www.madeleinewine.com

Grapelive Latest: Dec. 5

Grapelive Daily Pick
By Kerry Winslow

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Tardieu Laurent Saint Joseph Rhone Red2006 Tardieu-Laurent Saint-Joseph Vieilles Vignes Rhone Red.
This cuvee of old vine Syrah is super ripe and full-bodied with sweet fruit and lush textured mouth-feel. This wine is very modern in style and very clean with black and blue berry on the palate with hints of prunes, cherry liqueur, cassis and bitter chocolate. The color is very dark and will stain your teeth and coat your mouth with ripe tannins, but everything is smooth sailing and the finish is very lengthy with hints of coffee bean and caramel. Once the wine gets air it comes to life with violets, mineral, graphite and brighter fruit notes, in other words the wine is wound up, young and backwards still, so you might want to short term cellar this thing for a few more years, though if you like a thick monster Syrah that is more Australian in style, drink it up now! I left it open two days and liked it much better the third day and think it has a bit of a reward for those that put it down for a few years. ($55 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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