Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 29, 2018

2016 Malat, Gruner Veltliner, Crazy Creatures, Kremstal, Austria.
Michael Malat is a new star in the Wachau and his Gruner is a wine to check out, and I am diving into his playful entry level estate Crazy Creatures series Gruner Veltliner, which have a set of 4 different collector edition labels and come from his vines in the Kremstal DAC near his village of Palt. All of the state owned vines are farmed organic and with ultra sustainable methods to promote environmental health of the vineyard, plus both human and animal life, his Crazy Creatures Gruner is an all stainless steel ferment and aged example with clear persistence and purity, the vines are from two main plots in Part and Furth grown on the regions classic loess and loam as well as primary rock soils with all the grapes hand tended and picked. Malat does Cru (Gruner) versions from some unique sites including some with schist, sand and limestone, some are Erste Lage and very serious, as well as a Pinot Noir, which already has a following, much like Loimer. Malat’s wines are heavily influenced by the Danube and enjoy warm days and cool nights that produce a notable spicy character as well as a brisk intensity, while the Crazy Creatures captures that it is a lighter and refreshing style made to be enjoyed immediately upon release, it is dry, but generous on the tangy palate and looks to be a great bistro white as well as great with lunch and or lighter fare meals including sea foods and is an easy summer quaffer. Gruner Veltliner, a natural cross of non aromatic Traminer and St. Georgen, is Austria’s signature white varietal and it accounts for 30% of the total vineyard area in Austria, it’s most grown in and around Vienna, with the Wachau and Kremstal, Kamptal and the Weinvertel being a few of the main areas to look for on the labels. The 2016 Crazy Creatures Gruner is bright and zesty with classic lemon/lime, almond, pithy peach and white pepper in a crisp light form with a hint of herb, wet stones and faint apple. Nicely dry and brisk it gets a bit more textured with air, it is 12.5%, so there is some substance there under the juicy acidity, making it well balanced and easy to love, this is well made and fun, drink over the next 2 or 3 years.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 28, 2018

2013 La Spinetta, Barolo, Campe, Piedmonte, Italy.
Giorgio Rivetti’s Campe Cru Barolo is from 50 plus year old vines at 280 meters of elevation set on the calcareous or marl soils of the region, he’s been crafting exotically styles Nebbiolo from this site since 2000, and every vintage shows it’s sense of place and makes for an intense version of Barolo. I was luck to meet Giorgio in 2002 and got to try his barrel sample of the inaugural 2000 (vintage) prior to bottling and release, and it was fantastic even then and has since even got better, not bad for a first try, and this 2013 reminds me very much of that experience, it’s unmistakably Barolo, terroir driven, but somehow truly a La Spinetta wine with an inner beauty and luxurious in the same way a Grand Cru Burgundy is, though with a powerful impact, the ripe vintage helps soften the tannic blow, without taking away it’s classic structure and form. Rivetti has kept the modern and sleek formula for this wine, it sees 100% new French barriques and is aged a full 24 months, then bottled unfined and unfiltered with another year of resting before release, it always seems to please and surprise for it’s delicacy, complexity and perfume, you know there’s new wood, but it doesn’t influence it’s over all character, with this 2013 you’ll be able to enjoy it much sooner than the 2010, while it still will age, it potentially will be just as good, as that is saying a lot, this is a gorgeous wine and one I hope to revisit at 5 year intervals for the next 25 years! The Campe shines in the glass with a bright ruby tint and the nose shows a mix of roses and violets, dusty cherry and hints of vanilla and cedar before a medium/full palate of youthful Nebbiolo purity with dark damson plum, more cherry, balsamic dipped strawberry and tart currant fruits, minty herb, a restrained game note, discreet smoky vanilla and anise along with kiss of framboise liqueur. Still an infant, though open and transparent, there’s much more concentration than 2011 or 2012, it is way more a normal classic version and way less tight than 2010 and not as fruity as 2009, in other words, it’s just about damn perfect! It’s always tough to chose between the Starderi Cru Barbaresco and this richly textured Campe, both wines have a deep personal meaning to me, and both are rocking in 2013, but while my heart leans towards Starderi, I think this Campe Barolo might be getting the edge, drink it from 2024-2036, it’s majestic and I think it is on par with top Burgundies like Rousseau’s or Dujac’s Clos de la Roche(s)!
($159 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 27, 2018

2007 Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol, X, 10 ans d’élevage, Provence, France.
Done as a special project for an anniversary of Chateau Pradeaux being imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, this Bandol X is an amazing red from one of the regions great producers, it’s unique in it was raised in oak cask for a full 10 years, but it’s what shows up in the glass which is really special here, as this Mourvedre based Bandol Rouge is still fresh and vibrant, a wondrous wine of class and length. The Château Pradeaux, founded in 1752, is situated on the outskirts of the town of Saint Cyr-sur-Mer that lies directly on the Mediterranean Ocean between Toulon and Marseilles, there is almost no other place on earth vines would rather be, the view of the sea must be heavenly. The estate has been in the hands of the Portalis family since before the French Revolution, with Cyrille Portalis is the current head of the family’s winery and with his wife Magali and his sons that are now entrenched in the business and the cellar with both Edouard and Etienne, who was pouring the wines for me at Rosenthal’s trade tasting recently. While their lovely Chateaux Pradeaux Bandol Rosé is 50% Cinsault and 50% Mourvedre, the Rouge bottlings are between 95% and 100% old vine Mourvedre as this special X is, the winemaking is traditional with organic grapes, ferments with native yeasts in concrete tanks using whole cluster, and while the regular bottling gets 48 months in large cask, the X went a full ten years in the big French oak barrels. Grown on the regions southern exposures and slopes of clay and limestone soils, the Pradeaux X Badol Rouge is a magical terroir driven wine that shows a remarkably youthful bright garnet/ruby hue in the glass with a heightened perfume and subtle earthy tone with a hint of animal and dark fruit coming through on the bouquet. The palate is seamless with layer after layer unfolding, this is just stunning stuff right up there with First Growth Bordeaux in substance and style, it’s big tannins showing a refined velvety class, there’s a lot to admire here, the mouth feel is excellent and rewarding with blackberry, black cherry, dusty plums and strawberry fruits, a touch of leather, well resolved stemmy elements, salted black licorice, dried violets, lavender, graphite, minty basil, cedar and lingering kirsch. This outrageously good and transparent Bandol Rouge is a thrilling wine, that has retained vitality with lifting acidity, that remains true to it’s sense of place and history, it’s everything you’d expect and want, and while this is a rarity, don’t miss their regular Bandol Rouge and especially the Pradeaux Bandol Rosé.
($96 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 26, 2018

2017 Sheldon Wines, Vermentino, Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros.
Sheldon’s lively and refreshing Las Brisas Vermentino is a beautiful Summer wine, but also one of substance and stylish charm with a wonderful underlying extract and textural lushness with vibrant lemon/lime, peach and crisp apple fruits leading the way in this 69 case hand-crafted white. Dylan & Tobe Sheldon, whole cluster pressed this light/medium bodied wine and fermented it in stainless steel with no malo, the grapes were from a couple of separate picks with varied brix, from 18 to 25, which allows this Vermentino to have it’s dry brisk vividness, while also feeling ripe and with a serious mouth feel. This is really dynamic stuff in the glass and impressive, it reminds me of some of the better Italian examples from the Liguria region as well as Sardinia and the Tuscan coast, but this Mediterranean  varietal is doing well in California, with Ryme Cellars also making some amazing versions as well, this is a grape to look for! Flexible and varied in style with less overt perfume, Vermentino has a real place in California, especially this example from Carneros, with the loam, sedimentary and clay soils giving nice (heightened) fruity flavors along with the cool sea breezes and cold nights keeping acidity, there is a lot sexy in this crisp white wine with a mix of citrus and stone fruits, light spice, minty tang, saline and mineral tones. Absolutely brilliant for mixed sea foods and perfect for your picnic basket, as well as quaffing along with a baguette and soft cheeses, with air there is a roundness that comes through, though it keeps an energy and pithy raciness throughout with hints of wet stones, peach pit, zesty herbs and lime adding to the bright complexity.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 25, 2018

2015 Jo Landron, La Louvetrie, Muscadet Serve et Maine Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France.
The certified organic Domaine of Jo Landron uses biodynamic practices on his estate, with this cuvee coming from a higher plateau with a mix of soils that includes sandy clay with amphibolite stones of quartz with subsoils mostly of gneiss and treated with amazing care and passion, making for an unbelievable value in top quality white wine, it’s leesy depth and saline remind me more of a fine Premier Chablis than a humble Muscadet! Jo Landron’s Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Cuvee La Louvetrie 2015 is quite dense in textural feel, but lively and vibrant in a magical tension, it’s brilliant in mineral freshness and still ripe and with round glycerin, giving a polished, refined and balanced performance in the glass showing vivid lemon/lime, bitter apple, quince and salty wet stones with a light bouquet of white flowers, crushed sea shells, almond brioche and white peach. This clear Melon de Bourgogne and with a pale green/golden hue, adds a touch of sour herb and a steely core, it saw at least 6 months on the lees, hence the name (Sur Lie) is a refreshing and zingy white, but also with real extract and a serious nature, it will impress anyone for the price, no question and will be a wonderful oyster wine, as well as good for Summer sipping with soft French cheeses and picnics. Imported by Beaune Imports, Jo Landron is a winery to follow and joins Domaine de L’Ecu as one of the regions elite producers pursuing new heights of quality and respecting the land as well as going as natural as possible, making soulful artisan wines, drink this one over the next 2 to 3 years.
($15 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 24, 2018

2014 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain.
One of Randall’s secret series (or less known) of Pinot explorations, the 2014 Bonny Doon Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir comes from a site not far from Hanzell and Van Der Kamp, both of which made the area famous for powerful Pinot Noir and that were planted back in the 1950’s, and while Sonoma Mountain Vineyard came later it offers that same kind of pedigree and complexity, it’s a wine to search out, exclusively available through the tasting room. Pinot Noir is Randall Grahm’s great white whale, he has been trying to make wine that appeases his high expectations, and even though he has gone on to become one of the world’s most renown vintners and icon in California wine, especially with his Cigare Volant Rhone Ranger wines, he has always wanted to make a great Pinot Noir and has felt it was the one thing that got away. I personally have been thrilled with Grahm’s recent Pinots, especially his Enz Vineyard and this beautifully detailed, deeply layered and subtlety spicy Sonoma Mountain Vineyard, it’s an expressive and satiny wine that shows an opulent and vinous mouth feel, but reaches complex depths with velvety tannins that give an underlying grip and power. The nose is full of fruit and floral charm and the entry is wonderfully forward and lush, almost creamy on the palate, it slowly seduces and opens to a medium/full Pinot gaining extra elements with every sip, it goes from a simple pleasure to a seriously profound wine in stages, it demands your attention while a sly smile, it’s a wine that needs an evening to reveal all that is there with racy red plum, sweet raspberry and a core of black cherry along with mineral tones, dried lavender, rose oil, earl grey, dusty red pepper flakes, cedar, vanilla and minty anise. The acidity is lifting, but ultra smooth, the age has given this Pinot a seamless feel and polished class, it’s without a doubt a quality and refined effort, drink now.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Special Report: Notable Syrah Wines That Offer Great Value & Drinking Pleasure

Grapelive Special Report: Notable Syrah Wines That Offer Great Value & Drinking Pleasure!

2016 Drew, Syrah, Valenti Ranch, Mendocino Ridge.
Jason Drew in the last 3 or 4 vintages has arguably been crafting some of California’s absolute best wines, with both his Pinot Noir and Syrah lineup, these are just fantastic reds with amazing purity and intense detailing, it is seriously hard to find anything but near perfection in all of them, but I am always drawn to this Valenti Ranch Syrah, so it was with extreme excitement I got my first taste of this 2016 vintage, and of course it is a mind blowing experience in the glass! Valenti is planted to Chave (Hermitage) and Clone 1 selections and at about 1,300 to 1,400 feet on oceanic sedimentary and gravelly loam soils of the ultra cool climate Mendocino Ridge AVA that allows limits yields and gives classic Northern Rhone character along with deep California fruit and natural low alcohol. Jason co-ferment 5% Viognier, very Cote-Rotie like, with 25% whole cluster using 100% native yeast and guided a gentile fermentation and long maceration before raising the Valenti Syrah in barrels, 75% used French barrique along with 25% Hungarian oak, only gravity flow racked twice to clarify. Drew, since 2013, does all the farming at Valenti, which is now done to organic practices that seems to make this wine explode with energy and terroir personality, in the last couple of vintages it could be my favorite red wine under $50, and this 2016 is not far off if not even better for it’s heighten sensations and delicacy of a lighter vintage, though I do love the density and depth of the 2014 and 2015. If you are on Drew’s list and received this 2016 Valenti, give it another year in bottle at least, but dear God it has amazing potential and it is a sexy, sexy wine with layers of crushed violets, peppercorns, creme de cassis, wild plum, olive tapenade, minty/salty licorice and just the right amount of nervy stem notes. I can’t recommend Drew Family Cellars more highly, this is a must join list, and this 2016 Valenti Ranch Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Syrah is as good as it gets, best from 2020-2028.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2015 Saint Cosme, Saint-Joseph Rouge, Northern Rhone, France.
Ancient Syrah clones, steep granite slopes and from historic vines that were first developed by veterans of the Roman armies, Saint-Joseph is home to some of the world’s prettiest wines, included without question is Louis Barruol’s négociant Saint-Joseph Rouge, which is an insane value and gorgeous, made with 100% Sérine clone Syrah. (Sérine, the mentioned ancient and local variety of Syrah that is remarkably different than the more modern clones) Barruol uses a special site called the Malleval lieu-dit for his lovely Saint-Joseph, the microclimate of the vineyard is “very cold” which allows the fruit to maintain a bit more acidity, that intern gives extra lift while being fully ripe and with silky tannins. This wine is made from 70% destemmed grapes with 30% whole clusters, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged in 20% new 228-liter barrels.Don’t be fooled though, this is a very serious and meaty wine, especially in this riper year, though the sweet tannin and opulent texture allows for immediate hedonism and early drinking pleasure with layers of lush red and black fruits, subtle spice, floral tones and a sanguine streak. The nose has an array of raw meat, iodine, powered incense, kirsch notes, forest berries, plus hints of pipe tobacco, earth and dark flowers before replaying that theme on the palate adding damson plum, racy black raspberry, briar edginess (stems) and spicy lavender. In some ways this comes across as satiny as a Premier Cru Burgundy and it’s lifted acidity, while subtle in form adds to a more delicate feel, there is a bit more to come here in my opinion, but it’s highly desirable even now, though best with food obviously. Tight and with a touch of reductive funk that mutes the aromatics at this stage, things get much more open with decanting and this Syrah should prove a long lasting sleeper for the cellar as well as being a rewarding wine in the next 3 to 5 years.
($28 Est.) 92-94 Points, grapelive

2015 Le Temps des Copains by Frederic Niger (Domaine de L’Ecu), Syrah “Nobis” Vin de France, Love & Grapes Project, Rhone Red, France.
Made at Frederic Niger’s Domaine de L’Ecu in the Muscadet region of the Loire Valley, the Le Temps des Copains Love & Grapes Project “Nobis” is a 100% Syrah from southern Rhône that is fermented & aged in stainless steel tank and bottled with minimal sulfur, it’s the entry level offering, but it delivers expressive detail and drinks wonderfully with a lovely deep dark garnet hue and a fresh vibrant intensity. Not a big wine, on the lighter side, especially at first it seems zippy/juicy with a tart edge, but as it gets air it fills out to a medium bodied red that turns satiny and more polished with a riper tone, which goes perfectly with the vintage adding boysenberry, raspberry and plum to go with the initial cran/blueberry and tangy cherry along with light spices, loam and mineral elements as well as a hint of violets, currant and framboise, lingering with some saline, chalky stones and fennel. This fresh and pure Syrah is a wine that has a surprising grip and long aftertaste, but drinks easy enough to be a fun quaffer for BBQ’s and goes better with robust and rustic cuisine.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2016 Julian Cecillon, Syrah “Bel Horizon” Collines Rhodaniennes IGP, Northern Rhone, France.
As a fan of Cecillon, especially their Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, it was fun to grab a few bottles of his entry level offerings, in particular this 2016 Bel Horizon Syrah, it’s a classic lighter version of his wines from grapes outside the main AOC, but within the recognized collection of plots that make up the IGP of Collines Rhodaniennes, which once were historic sites that date back to Roman times. Cave Julien Cecillon is a joint project of winemakers Julien Cécillon and Nancy Kerschen, an American winemaker, with both having combined experiences working for various international wineries including the famed Yves Cuilleron, along with others like Christophe Curtat, Fabrice Gripa, JC Cellars, Clos du Val, Saintsbury, Indevin and Saronsberg, they are a passionate team and their wines show it. The Bel Horizon cuvee is 100% Syrah, grown on granite soils, and comes off several scattered parcels of Syrah bordering on both St Joseph and Crozes Hermitage appellations, with most coming from old vines that are over 80 years old that had been previously classified in AOCs. They report that most of the reds get native ferments and maceration and crushing in open tanks (stainless steel and fiberglass) then getting a lengthy time with punch downs and pumpers before racking over to cask for malos while the elevage was in 90% in used barrels that on average were seasoned between 4 to 5 years, with the wine aged on the fine lees for about 10 months, interesting also they do a Gamay as well, sourced slightly north of their main vineyards. Medium bodied and lightly perfumed, this is seriously good stuff, it has layers of classic boysenberry, blueberry, plum and strawberry fruits, graphite, minty herb, cedar, kirsch and a whiff of bacon as well as subtle pepper and dusty stones. Imported by Balanced Wine Selections/Paris Wine Company, Cecillon is a label to check out, especially the Crozes-Hermitage and this Bel Horizon cuvee.
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2014 Chesebro, Syrah, La Mariposa, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
Mark and Will Chesebro’s single barrel Syrah with a touch of co-ferment Viognier, Cote-Rotie style La Mariposa was just released and was available as of 4/20/18 in their Carmel Valley tasting room, it is a seriously good cool climate Arroyo Seco example that you’ll want to get sooner v. later! Showing a rich body and full flavors, you be surprised by the extremely modest low alcohol, it comes in at just 12.5%, very Northern Rhone like, with air and swirls there’s even more surprises in the glass gaining intense layers of spice, earth, meaty notes and sweet floral tones as well as light kirsch, wild herbs and gripping peppercorns. The main profile leans towards boysenberry, plum and black raspberry fruit which is amplified by Italian green olive and racy spearmint, with a long refined finish that recounts all the mentioned elements. The grippy tannins are well managed by the medium/full density and while easy to enjoy it will show it’s complexity and best form with hearty cuisine, this is an impressive and showy effort from Chesebro, you not want to miss this limited bottlings, the 24 cases will go fast, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. One of Monterey’s sleeper wineries, Chesbro offers a quality and value set of wines that offer an authentic well crafted sensibility and restraint, their zippy Vermentino and vivid Grenache Blanc are gems, plus the dusty dry Rose is one of my favorites, if you want to understand and taste Arroyo Seco’s terroir then this is your place to start, these are wines with a true and transparent character of place.
($32 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2014 Twill Cellars, Syrah, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The excellent Twill 2014 Syrah is a blended cuvee that best reflects the vintage for Oregon, It is comprised of three vineyards, two from the Applegate Valley, including Steelhead Run, Twill’s top Syrah vineyard site where they also do a single vineyard version, and one from the Umpqua Valley. As the winery itself puts it, Twill Cellars is a small Oregon wine project presenting the influence of land, weather and craft in a vinous assembly, from sustainable vineyards and using longer evevage which adds a textural pleasure that does show through on the Syrah making for an impressive wine. The wines spend 18-22 months in mostly neutral barrels with no added yeasts or enzymes, and minimal SO2 during aging, this minimalist approach pays off here allowing for what are young vine lots to come through without any harsh tannins, while still having a real palate impact and refinement, this 2014 Twill Oregon Syrah delivers a solid and inspiring performance in the glass with a nice bouquet of dark berries, rose petals, fig paste and espresso bean that leads to a rounded palate of blackberry, blueberry and cherry fruits along with hints of cedar, anise and a peppery spices. There is a sensation in the mouth where you get more Pinot Noir like profile, but that is not a criticism as it drinks gracefully and with a full array of Syrah flavors that include boysenberry, plum, blueberry and kirsch, some white pepper, cedar, minty herb and a hint of mocha. This is an easy drinking Syrah that should provide plenty of enjoyment and pleasure over the next year or three max, drink now.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Special Report: Two Oregon Rosés You Need to Try!

Grapelive New Rosé Picks

2017 Bow & Arrow, Rose, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Scott Frank’s Bow & Arrow Dry Willamette Valley Rose is mostly Pinot Noir based with a touch of Gamay similar to what you might find in Touraine in the Loire Valley, where he gets most of his inspiration. That said, the Bow & Arrow Rose is at first a dead ringer for a Txakolina Rose with a faint, but distinct spritzy zesty quality and electric vibrancy, I am totally addicted to this wonderfully light and zippy pink wine! Picked to be Rose and whole cluster, direct press with a tiny amount of self captured CO2 this Willamette Valley Rose deliver a excellent performance and is thrilling from start to finish with it’s remarkably delicate palate of acid and mineral driven character featuring a heightened experience of tart cherry, strawberry, nectarine, lemon/lime and faint mouth watering unripe watermelon. This a vivid and tangy, super dry style pink that is an ultimate poolside quaffer and or picnic/porch pounder, I though will be savoring a few bottles at the beach this summer. Scott Franc, winemaker at Bow & Arrow, the Portland based natural wine producer is crafting some of Oregon’s best values and most interesting wines, sourcing from almost exclusively organic if not biodynamic sites, that includes Johan Vineyards, his wines as mentioned lean towards the Loire Valley for their influence rather than the more common Burgundy theme you find in the Willamette, be sure to check out their Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume styled Sauvignon Blancs, as well as their saline/stony Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet like) for the wines and their Gamay based reds especially, with the Rhinestones in particular a wine not to miss, along with a fresh set of Pinot Noirs this is an awesome winery to discover. The Rose gains with air, adding a hint of snappy herbs and rosewater, it’s refreshing charms run deep and I only wish it was in a magnum, drink as much as you can find!
($16-20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2017 Illahe Vineyards, Rose of Tempranillo, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Illahe is an under the radar producer of wonderful Willamette Valley Pinots, but you should check out all of their offerings, they include this amazingly and shockingly dry Rose of Tempranillo, as well as Lagrein, a grape that makes some the most interesting and dark wines of the Alto Adige, a Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gruner Veltliner! Illahe, which means “Earth” or (our) “Place” in the native American Chinook language, is a mostly organic producer with a great sense of sustainable responsibility as well as being part of Oregon’s Deep Roots Coalition, they are based in Dallas, Oregon in the west Salem area of the Willamette Valley set on marine sediments atop ancient siletz rock, with these sedimentary Willakenzie, Bellpine, Wellsdale, Dupee, with patches of volcanic Jory soils giving these wines their soul, life force and character. There are so many intriguing things going on at this winery it could take a novel’s worth of text to relate it all to you, but I digress, I was talking about their pink stuff! The Rose of Tempranillo is whole cluster and direct press from all hand picked small lots and barrel fermented and aged like a white wine, but with just enough skin contact to achieve it’s golden/pink salmon hue and it comes in at a vibrantly fresh 12.5% natural alcohol, with it’s acid intensity it has a riveting personality and old world charm and zesty feel, it’s bursting with energy showing tart melon, wild peach, tart yellow and pink citrus as well as sour cherry fruits along with a racy spiciness, steely mineral, loam and wet flint notes with just enough used barrel influence to give a nice vinous quality. Isn’t she pretty in pink, drink this vivacious Rose of Tempranillo, which has an almost Provence Tibouren feel, over the coming year, it’s tasty brilliant stuff.
($17 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 23, 2018

2016 Drew, Syrah, Valenti Ranch Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge.
Jason Drew in the last 3 or 4 vintages has arguably been crafting some of California’s absolute best wines, with both his Pinot Noir and Syrah lineup, these are just fantastic reds with amazing purity and intense detailing, it is seriously hard to find anything but near perfection in all of them, but I am always drawn to this Valenti Ranch Syrah, so it was with extreme excitement I got my first taste of this 2016 vintage, and of course it is a mind blowing experience in the glass! Valenti is planted to Chave (Hermitage) and Clone 1 selections and at about 1,300 to 1,400 feet on oceanic sedimentary and gravelly loam soils of the ultra cool climate Mendocino Ridge AVA that allows limits yields and gives classic Northern Rhone character along with deep California fruit and natural low alcohol. Jason co-ferment 5% Viognier, very Cote-Rotie like, with 25% whole cluster using 100% native yeast and guided a gentile fermentation and long maceration before raising the Valenti Syrah in barrels, 75% used French barrique along with 25% Hungarian oak, only gravity flow racked twice to clarify. Drew, since 2013, does all the farming at Valenti, which is now done to organic practices that seems to make this wine explode with energy and terroir personality, in the last couple of vintages it could be my favorite red wine under $50, and this 2016 is not far off if not even better for it’s heighten sensations and delicacy of a lighter vintage, though I do love the density and depth of the 2014 and 2015. If you are on Drew’s list and received this 2016 Valenti, give it another year in bottle at least, but dear God it has amazing potential and it is a sexy, sexy wine with layers of crushed violets, peppercorns, creme de cassis, wild plum, olive tapenade, minty/salty licorice and just the right amount of nervy stem notes. I can’t recommend Drew Family Cellars more highly, or highly enough, this is a must join list, and this 2016 Valenti Ranch Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Syrah is as good as it gets, just give it the time it needs, best from 2020-2028.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 22, 2018

2013 Domaine Francois Lumpp, Givry Premier Cru “A Vigne Rouge” Red Burgundy, France.
This Domaine is getting a lot of buzz for value, and I was very excited to try this Givry, not to be confused with the more prestigious Gevrey-Chambertin, by Francois Lumpp, this area is in the Cote Chalonnaise, not far from the more famous Mercurey. There are a total of 240 acres of red and just 24 acres of white in the 27 climats within the Givry AOC (appellation) that are classified as Premier Cru vineyards, with wines designated Givry Premier Cru that show a vineyard name, or, as allowed, just Givry Premier Cru, in which case it is possible to blend wine from several Premier Cru vineyard sites within the AOC, with this Lumpp A Vigne Rouge cuvee being the former, it’s a single vineyard Premier Cru Givry. The region is known for both red and white with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being the main grapes as you’d expect and even though it’s a lesser known place, Burgundy fans have long looked here for purity, character and especially value, and with this Francois Lumpp you can see why. Kermit Lynch now imports Lumpp, who was founded in 1991 and produce just about 4,000 cases annually, every wine François makes is from Givry, and interestedly from vineyards that he himself planted and nurtured–something that is exceedingly rare in Burgundy today, his vines are a massale selection of old bud wood grown on in this case a mix of Oxfordian Nantoux Limestone, Fine Marl, and Clay with A Vigne Rouge coming off 15 year old vines with Southern, Southwestern, and at 850 feet above sea level. Givry’s best premier cru sites, which is the case in most of the Côte d’Or (Burgundy) are situated on the mid to upper level slopes of the rolling hillsides, these form the base of Lumpp’s holdings (all of which are in fact Premier Cru plots, except one white Lieu-Dit). Lumpp uses stainless steel to ferment with gentile punch downs then the wine is raised in barriques, of which surprisingly are about 70% new each vintage, the Premier Crus get one year in barrel as this one did with only one racking to clarify before bottling. This 2013 is astonishingly fresh and deeply flavored with a rich dark garnet/ruby hue and a vivid grapey nose that leads to a textured palate that shines with blackberry, plum, bramble berry and cherry fruits along with a streak of mineral, earth and briar adding sweet woody notes along with hint of tobacco, tangy currant, minty herb and apple skin. The tannins are supple, but firmer than you’d expect of a wine of this vintage and there’s a lot of pop from vital acidity, while being rather lush and dense, certainly this Burgundy has ages to go and it’s a huge bargain, best with robust cuisine, and it must be said it has resolved almost all the oak making for real entertaining and stylish wine, drink almost guilt free, best from 2019 to 2026.
($39 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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