Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 16, 2019

2018 Weingut Von Winning, Riesling Trocken, Deidesheimer Leinhohle, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Von Winning, Riesling Trocken, Deidesheimer Leinhohle, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany.
One of the best kept secret’s in von Winning’s portfolio is their Premier Cru Leinhohle Trocken, it’s a suave and stylish dry Riesling that really is on par with the Grosses Gewächs and shows this gorgeous vintage to near perfection with incredible perfume and complexity, it’s awesome stuff. While sure, it doesn’t have the hedonistic density of Kalkofen GG or thrilling stoniness of the Pechstein GG, but it’s damn close and it’s weightless texture almost makes it more compelling, I would say in this year it reminds of how in some years I in fact love Montée de Tonnerre, a Premier Cru Chablis, better than the Blanchot Grand Cru, like the 2010 Raveneau’s by of comparison, and since Burgundy was von Winning’s winemaker’s biggest inspiration, that hopefully makes relatable sense. In fact Stephan Attmann’s wines can rival the upper echelon of Meusault and even Montrachet, especially his Langenmorgen, Ungeheuer and in particular the Kirchenstuck, the Le Montrachet of the Pfalz, all Grand Cru sites that von Winning has in the Pfalz. The Leinhole Erste Lage is set on löss, loam and red sandstone soils with vines, again influenced by Burgundian practices, with von Winning and Attmann having adopted the single cane trellising system, prevalent in the Cote d’Or, and Grosses Gewächs and this one getting fermentted in 500mL French barrels, with indigenous yeasts and aged in a combination of different sized barrels. This 2018 Leinholhe Erste Lage Trocken is shiny and sunny in the glass with a pale golden/greenish hue and serious nose of white violets, brioche and mango flesh before leading to a complex medium bodied palate of mixed citrus, including lime, tangerine and grapefruit along with tangy apricot, papaya, green apple and pineapple along with salted chalk rock, leesy toast, crystalized ginger, clove spice and crunchy mineral notes.

Von Winning like Leflaive and others farms their grapes using organic/biodynamic and sustainable viticulture with high density planting to ensure the best quality and be responsible stewards of their holdings, it is all the attention to detail and passion here that makes these wines really stand apart from the pack and make them unique. Weingut von Wiinning is one of the best wine estates in Germany and all of Europe, with a focus on dry Riesling, obviously, but they also due lovely Pinot Noir, Sparkling and what might be one of the greatest Sauvignon Blanc wines in the world, and every time I taste with Andreas Hütwohll, their world wide sales director and winemaker, I am left speechless by the quality in these wines. That leads me back to the 2018 Leinholhe Trocken, which I tasted in barrel sample, just before its bottling, it gives me full confidence that this vintage is going to another stunner for the Pfalz. The brilliance of this wine is the inner energy and textural feel, while still being racy with natural acidity it has remarkable depth and every sip reveal new layers, it is a wine that proves Riesling gives the same thrill as a tannic red wine with a velvet edged power, it is absolutely impossible not to be left in awe of what is capable here. This upcoming release is most likely going to get overlooked by those seeking the GG’s and missed by the value hunters, so it just might fly under the radar, but I would still chased it down with excited vigor, because it might be one of the best wines of vintage under $50, I am going to put my own money where my mouth is I can assure you that! Honestly it is wines like this that gives me a child’s like enthusiasm and puts a huge smile on my face, it drinks great now and will for stupid long time to come, it will involve nicely for 15 plus years no question, this 2018 Leinholhe is an exceptional Riesling.
($43 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 15, 2019

2016 Chateau Beychevelle, Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France -photo grapelive

2016 Chateau Beychevelle, Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France.
All those rumors you heard about the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux, quiet comparisons to the legendary years, you know what I mean, well, yeah, they are pretty much true, this is a vintage to buy and stock up on. I recently tried this Beychelle, and while not cheap (if not purchased on futures), it is a stunning wine, maybe one of the best young versions I’ve had experience with from this historic property in the Medoc, even better is, like 1990 and somewhat like 2005 and 2009 for sure, it can actually be enjoyed rather young, while still incredibly age worthy, that said, patience will be rewarded. Chateau Beychelle, a fourth grown from the classification of 1855, has traditionally been a solid performer with a legacy of value on offer, though rarely has it reached quality exceeding its expectations, but I must say in recent vintages I’ve been very impressed and like their neighbor Léoville-Poyferré, a Super Second (Growth) are producing some thrilling stuff, especially this 2016 Grand Vin, the top wine from the estate. The 2016 is richly packed with fruit and is extremely deep in color, very purple/back and garnet in the glass and the nose is full of violets, cassis, graphite and sweet toast, which all leads to a palate that echos those first sensations and adds blackberry, plum, black cherry and mulberry fruits, a touch of loaminess, cedar and anise as well as touch of pipe tobacco and vanilla. This is full throttle, full bodied Bordeaux with a veil of opulence that hides the powerful structural tannins well still, and excitingly there is a nice burst of juicy acidity keeping things from getting over the top, everything looks set for a gorgeous long lived wine.

Chateau Beychelle, like many Medoc estates are grateful for the Dutch engineers that literary drained the swamp and created one of the best terroirs in France and the story of it’s label is very interesting. At the beginning of the 17th century, according to the Chateau and local historians, The first Duke of Épernon owned the property, a renown sailor and naval commander, who became great French admiral and such was his reputation that as boats passed in front of his estate, they would lower their sails to show their allegiance and respect. This honor in the end gave rise to the Château’s emblem, the ship with a griffon-shaped prow, its name in Gascon dialect, Bêcha vêla, meaning “baisse voile” (“lower the sails”), which later became Beychevelle. For the 2016 vintage, the final blend of the Grand Vin was Cabernet Sauvignon 47%, Merlot 47%, Cabernet Franc 1% and Petit Verdot 5%, which accounts for the mix of power and lush mouthfeel, and it was raised in 50% new wood. This vintage was the first using new technical facilities at Beychelle, with the best in equipment and a much better working layout to, as the winery suggests, enable a gentle transfer of the grapes by gravity, very precise temperature controlled stainless fermentors, and extractions adjusted to the characteristics of each vat, along with better vineyard practices and a focus on the best individual parcels. The investment here is paying off and this wine is fantastic, it shows off the heart of Beychelle’s vineyards, which are located on two plateaus set on deep Garonne gravels, which the Cabernet loves, over loam and clay that over looks the Gironde River. When you think of all the wines now that go for over $175, especially from Napa, this wine, even at full release price looks pretty reasonable and I bet it will go 25 to 30 years.
($150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 14, 2019

2018 Arianna Ochipinti, SP68 Bianco, Terre Siciiane IGT, Sicily, Italy -photo grapelive

2018 Arianna Ochipinti, SP68 Bianco, Terre Siciiane IGT, Sicily, Italy.
The exotic and refreshing Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is an intriguing perfumed, but crisply dry and salty white made from the local Zibibbo grape, which is also known as Moscato di Alessandria, plus the little known local Albanello varietal, it just might be the best version of this wine to date from the ever amazing and talented Arianna. While somewhat rustic in an authentic style, classic for Occhipinti, this SP68 Bianco reminds me of some of the best examples of Muscat, even if it is only about 60%, including my personal favorites from Mueller-Catoir, who’s Trocken Pfalz Muskateller is outrageously good and Wenbach’s Muscat d’Alsace version, which to me of course is high praise! The taste of the sea comes through in dramatic fashion here and it is brisk with acidity making it vibrant and a thrill with matching briny sea foods and especially shellfish in spicy broth and or Moroccan lemon chicken and couscous. Zesty layers of citrus and stones fruits are led by the jasmine and spearmint bouquet and spicy details along with a touch of tropical essences, wet stone and a touch of rosewater bath salts. The persistent lemon/lime and white peach are lifted here with the dramatic aromatics, sea spray, earth and mineral tones and a pop crystalized ginger in a saliva inducing light bodied wine. The SP68 series (White and Red) are named after the local and historic trade road, which has been around for centuries and has a meaning of tradition and history to Arrianna, making these wines very special to her, she thinks she is honoring the ghosts of her ancestors, who used to trade wine in Amphora and carried to market by mules.

Occhipinti, who is one of the leading lights of the natural wine world and mostly known for her amazing work with the Frappato grape, native to her region in Vittoria, Sicily on the southeastern side of the Island, outside of the volcano zone near Ragusa. Her reds have taken the the world by storm and have brought a whole legion of fans to this part of Sicily, especially the signature Il Frappato, but also her Nero d’Avola and blends, including the sister wine to this one, the SP68 Rosso. Arianna Occhipinti had a meteoric start as a young winemaker who at only 21 released her first vintage, that was the 2004 and has only got better with age. She has rockstar image in the wine world, kind of funny for such a down to earth soul and a woman of the earth, still she has became a mystical, if not seminal figure in the biodynamic/organic and natural wine movement. Arianna tends to 14 hectares of olive groves and 5 hectares of vineyards, which she works with a holistic sensibility and pride of place. For the SP68 Bianco, Occhipinti uses a native yeast fermentation after a 15 day maceration on the skins, with all the aging done solely in cement vats, which lasts 6 months to preserve freshness and allow it to gain texture, and it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. This blend, 60% Moscato di Alessandria and 40% Albanello comes from vines about 15 years old and set on her red sand and chalky limestone soils which are set at about 800 or so feet above sea level and that get a cool breeze. Drink now and often.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 13, 2019

2018 Domaine Rimbert, Cinsault “Cousin Oscar” Vin de France, Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Rimbert, Cinsault “Cousin Oscar” Vin de France, Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France.
The all natural 100% Cinsault Cousin Oscar from Domaine Rimbert is a tangy fresh red wine that is bursting with vibrancy and classic Cinsault character, and while his Carignan based Saint-Chinian wines are his serious offerings, I love this playful Glou Glou style wine with it’s low alcohol and tangy freshness. This new release of Cousin Oscar is vibrant with a light ruby hue in the glass and with a strawberry led profile that includes tree picked plum, sour cherry, rosewater, cinnamon/pepper spiciness and intense licorice notes. This vat raised Cinsault loves being served with a slight chill and with lighter cuisine, it perks up nicely with food lighting it to a weight similar to Pinot Noir and gains earthy tones and hints of lavender. This wine has a Natty following and features on some Nature Wine Bar lists, it succeeds in being an honest and delightful lighter style red.

Jean-Marie Rimbert, the self proclaimed defender of the Languedoc’s native Carignan grape, is a benchmark grower for the region and also a maverick, being one of the leading lights in the Saint-Chinian AOC. His Cousin Oscar is named for a family member that had a serious reputation with the women in the region, such was his looks and charm he was known, I hear, to have women fighting over his attention, and the label alludes to this and his playful character. Rimbert’s Carignan based reds are, as mentioned above, the more serious stuff and remind me a little of Maxime Magnon’s intriguing Coberieres wines, as well as some fresher (style) Gigondas producers, with its added doses of Grenache and Syrah adding lovely complexity. This Cousin Oscar is wonderful fun and well made, it should satisfy the Natty and non Natty crowd in equal measure. Also if you are Cinsault curious, it also grows great in South Africa, see Baadenhorst, along with some fun stuff coming from California, look for some from Turley, Sandlands, Andrew Murray (Rose) and Randall Grahm is using it freely in his new Cigare Volant at Bonny Doon!
($17 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 12, 2019

2018 Domaine Testut, Chablis “Cote de Brechain” White Burgundy, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Testut, Chablis “Cote de Brechain” White Burgundy, France.
A newcomer to me, on the Chablis scene, Domaine Testut looks set for stardom with an impressive Lieu-Dit bottling from Cote de Brechain, tiny plot set of mostly alcareous clay along with some classic limestone from the Kimmeridgien era, making for a mineral and stone driven Chardonnay that certainly on the level of Premier Cru stars in the region and maybe a Grand Cru of two! Cyril Testut has presided over the family estate since 1998, so he’s been doing it while now, the domaine, which was established by his father Philippe Testut in 1967, Testuts have 13 hectares of vineyards (previsouly owned by Cistercian agronomist monks) located in the historic heart of Chablis. It’s a teddy selection of Grand Cru and Premier vines, mostly of which sit between the Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre and the Grand Cru Blanchots, not too shabby that. Those that like the domaines of Patrick Puize, Savary and Christophe will instantly recognize the style and quality in these Testut wine, and even those that are lucky enough to enjoy the greats, like Raveneau and Dauvissat will no doubt be thrilled by these wines. I was completely seduced by this Testut Cote de Brechain, just by it’s nose alone. This is cystalline Chablis that was fermented and aged between 9 and 12 months in tank without any wood, absolutely exceptional and a wine I plan on stocking up on.

Cyril Testut focuses on capturing terroir, especially the steely/flinty mineral essences and that shows through clearly in this stunning effort, this wine is a must try for Chablis enthusiasts, in particular, like me, that are searching out a great value. This 2018 Cote de Brechain is racy and vividly clear with a fantastic bouquet of lime blossom, wet river stones and orchard fruits that leads to a light/medium bodied palate of tangy green apple, lemon/lime and with chalky detailing with a real sense of purity of form and good natural acidity that lifts the flavors, but feels smooth in the mouth, adding a touch of hazelnut and a hint of clove spice. The Lieu-Dit Cote de Brechain, with 40 year old vines, is on the left bank on Serine river and faces east allowing a long hang time and ripe flavors, but with zesty acidity keeping things remarkably fresh, as this pretty wine shows. Brisk and refreshing the crisp Cote de Brechain opens up with a bit of air and gains textural elements, filling out all corners, while staying true and vibrant throughout. This wine can be easily enjoyed as a Summer sipper, though has structure and finesse to be a serious wine with a meal, search this stuff out!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 11, 2019

2016 Montevetrano, Colli di Salerno “Montevetrano” IGT Rosso, Campania, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 Montevetrano, Colli di Salerno “Montevetrano” IGT Rosso, Campania, Italy.
One of the most singular wines of southern Italy, Montevetrano is to Campania as Tignanello is to Tuscany, made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, the local Aglianico and Merlot, it is one of the most priced and sought after red wines of the region and is world renown. The Montevetrano estate vineyard takes its name from a medieval castle that dates to Roman times, and was once owned by French Bourbons, which makes it very fitting that they have the French varietals planted along with native Aglianico. This deep and powerful wine comes from this 13 acre site set on calcareous and silty-loam soils that yields a mere 2.4 tons per acre that enhances the rich concentration of flavors. Montevetrano, which was founded back in 1983, with the first Montevetrano being made in 1991, is owned by Silvia Imparato, who along with the famed winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, who is still the consulting enologist, turned this unlikely small property into one of Italy’s best producers. With Domenico “Mimì” La Rocca, a local who was born in Montevetrano, handling the winegrowing and running the cellars Montevetrano continues to be one of Italy’s great wines and the 2016 is absolutely stunning and timeless, it is a wine that will join the vest best ever from this winery. Layered in the mouth with a subtle floral bouquet this 2016 really grabs your attention with blackberry coulis, creme de cassis, plum and black cherries leading the way along with hints of iron, cedar, graphite, minty herb, sweet leather, spicy tobacco leaf and toasty oak notes. This youthful and tightly would wine, the 25th anniversary release of Montevetrano, has 20 to 30 years easy and will reward the patient that want to put something special away in the cellar, and highlights the great vintage that 2016 was in Central and Southern Italy.

The gorgeous dark crimson and ruby hued 2016 Montevetrano was a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Aglianico and 20% Merlot that was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks from very carefully sorted individual berries and then raised in new and one time once French barriques for just over a year. Recently I tasted with Guido Groppi, Montevetrano’s long serving commercial director, and was able to get a real feel for the winery, one that I have admired, and taste through the lineup of current wines along with a special aged Montevetrano from the 2009 vintage, which was also drinking fantastic coming into its prime window. My first experience with Montevetrano was when I tried the late nineties versions that had by that time become quite famous with great reviews and ratings, and I remember always being intrigued by them, as they had a unique quality that while not definitely accurate reminded me of Bordeaux meets top Barolo. I think the last bottle of Monterevetrano I drank was the 2001, which was thrilling even young, but a wine that I think probably could have still aged another two decades! So it was wonderful to get re-acquainted with these wines, especially this newly released 2016 with its sexy layers of dark fruits and I really love that they have moved towards a higher percentage of Algianico in the blend from being almost solely Cabernet and the addition of Merlot has really helped filled out the palate with a lovely elegance. With air the dense fruit gives way to a finessed and graceful wine, that while firm in tannins, really turns on the charm, this is impressive stuff that benefits greatly from a robust meal and time for it to fully develop in the glass.
($70) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 10, 2019

2018 Chateau Peyrassol, Rosé “Cuvee de la Commanderie de Peyrassol” Cotes de Provence, France -photo grapelive

2018 Chateau Peyrassol, Rosé “Cuvee de la Commanderie de Peyrassol” Cotes de Provence, France.
The famous Cotes de Provence winery, Chateau Peyrassol, is located in the hills of the Var, north of St. Tropez and Hyères between the villages of Le Luc and Flassans-sur-Issole and are well known for their top notch dry Rosé. This tranquil and picturesque spot is home to vineyards planted to primarily Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah used in the Rosé bottlings, but also with an interesting mix of other varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Rolle (Vermentino), Uni Blanc, Semillon and Clairette Blanc. The current release of the Rosé, 2018 is a beautiful vintage for this in demand wine, one of the finest I’ve tried from this estate in fact, in particular I love this Cuvee de la Commanderie, the work horse wine of the domaine. Like all of the Rosés of Peyrassol this one was made in the direct press method, with maceration and fermentation being done with cool temperatures. According to the winery and importer Rosenthal Wine Merchant, this winemaking process gives the Rosés of Peyrassol their beautiful watermelon, and delicate salmon pink color. The fermentation is exceptionally long, resulting in rosés that are both lively, fresh and full-bodied and complex, as this one shows with its layers of tart cherry, the mentioned watermelon, strawberry and citrusy crisp fruits along with a steely/mineral character as well as having a wet stone, dried lavender and rosewater elements.

The Chateau Peyrassol, as it has been known since 2001, is one of the longest running domaines in the region being first established in the middle of the 1200s, when it was founded by the Knights of Templar, it rests near the sea and is surrounded by a beautiful Mediterranean forest, with Eighty hectares planted to vineyards which are cultivated on the dry, rocky clay and limestone based soils. Many centuries of history have happened here, but it was until the Rigord family, who bought the property in 1870, decided to market and bottle estate wines, in 1981 that any serious attention was paid to this unique estate, originally known as Commanderie de Peyrassol as tribute to the crusading knights that the property served. Now the wines are some of the most respected and sought after in Provence, especially their Cotes de Provence Rosé, like this one, and Philippe Austruy, the currant owner, who has aggressively invested in this exceptional property, modernizing the cellars runs the Chateau with his nephew Alban Cacaret in charge of the day to day and overseeing the winemaking. I also really like the Blanc and Rouge (made from Cabernet and Syrah) a lot, though the Rosé is certainly the most charming and delicious of the wines and they go great with and without food, though they take on a more serious tone and fill out on the palate with food, I especially enjoy them with seafood like mussels in a Mediterranean inspired spicy broth.
($22 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 9, 2019

2017 De Forville, Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmonte, Italy -photo grapelive

2017 De Forville, Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmonte, Italy.
This dark fruited and brightly juicy 2017 Dolcetto by De Forville is a little gem of a wine that delivers a wonderful performance worthy of your attention for a grape that sometimes isn’t take as seriously as it should be. De Forville, mostly known for their value price and delicious Nebbiolo wines, especially their Barbaresco offerings, but this Dolcetto shouldn’t be overlooked, much in the same way you don’t want to miss G.D. Vajra’s outrageously good versions either. The De Forville family, according to the importer Rosenthal Wine Merchant, emigrated to Piedmont from Belgium in 1848 and established themselves in the village of Barbaresco in 1860 with Gioachino De Forville at the helm and who was obsessed with Nebbiolo, knowing its regal character was well suited to the terroir where he set of the estate. The current generation running the De Forville family estate are the brothers Valter and Paolo Anfosso, who have taken the wines to the next level. The well made and lovely Dolcetto d’Alba is an attractive purple/crimson wine of which De Forville says is limited to just 500 cases which is sent to the US market, ensuring there is some out there, but you’ll have to chase it down.

Like their also tasty Barbera d’Alba, the De Forville Dolcetto d’Alba is harvested from three separate parcels spread between the communes of Barbaresco and Neive, pretty much all Cru sites. The vines used on this one are an average age of 30 years, and are sustainably farmed. The Dolcetto gets a tank fermentation of approximately 10 days in stainless steel, then after primary is completed wine is racked into large oak “botti” for where it is aged for about six months, making for a fresh and easy to drink style of Italian country wine. This vintage is deeper than most, ripe in color and richness on the medium bodied palate with vivid layers of blackberry, tangy currant, juicy plum and black cherry fruits along with a crunchy mineral note and a mix of brambly spices and herbal essences with a touch of floral violets and a subtle bite of tannin and acidity. For those that are fans of Piedmonte and can’t drink Barolo or Barbesco everyday will be thrilled by this Dolcetto which should drink nicely for 3 to 5 years easy and is a solid value, best with rustic old world style cuisine.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 8, 2019

2017 Weingut Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel Germany.
One of my favorites and wine world classic, the Willi Schaefer Graacher-Himmelreich Kabi is always a delectable treat, this off dry Riesling is so pure and subtly complex that you can’t help but fall head over heals in love with it on first taste. Schaefer only produces about 2, 900 cases total and with an insanely greedy worldwide fan base, these wines are rarely found on the store shelves, but when you do see either the Kabinetts, buy them as fast as you can. I love the sweeter wines here too, but the Graacher-Domprobst and this Graacher-Himmelreich Kabinett offering are absolute steals for the joy and quality in the glass. These are unquestionably terroir wines, heavily influenced by the Devonian slate soils and the steep slopes on which these vines cling to. I think Terry Theise, the Riesling guru that imports these wines into the states, says it best, These Schaefer wines are silly with deliciousness, and as crystalline as they are, as ethereally complex and limpidly clear as they are, he adds, they don’t fuss at you (about) how amazing they are. They are affectionate and they just sit in the glass and love you with their generous fruitiness and sublime drinkability.

This 2017 is a gorgeous and forward Riesling with a creamy lusciousness and a racy personality with an exotic array of fruit, spice and mineral tones. I personally would adds 3 to 4 more points to the rating here just on common sense and my affection for this wine, but since it is hard to find and desirable without me gushing too about, I restrained myself, though if I get a chance to try it again in say 5 years or more, I no doubt will give it the credit it truly deserves! Schaefer, as noted is a small family winery that has a long history in German wines dating back to 1121 and is solely focused on terroir driven Riesling, making wines that are luxurious and regardless of sugar levels are gloriously balanced, you almost never feel sweetness on its own, it is more textural in its presence, as with this one. The nose has a beautiful array of white flowers, Asian spices, crushed rock and citrus before leading to a polished palate of apricot, key lime, green apple, lychee and tangerine fruits along with a saline note, wet stone, flinty mineral and crystalized ginger. Again the off dry Graacher-Himmelreich Kabinett is more creamy and cloying, making easy to enjoy all on its own, though brilliant with spicy dishes including Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisines, plus cured meats and briny seafood.
($33 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 7, 2019

2018 Laurent Herlin, Cabernet Franc “Tsoin-Tsoin” Vin de France, Loire Valley, France -photo grapelive

2018 Laurent Herlin, Cabernet Franc “Tsoin-Tsoin” Vin de France, Loire Valley, France.
The bright and strawberry juicy Tsoin-Tsoin by natural wine new comer (to the USA) Laurent Herlin is a easy to drink and quaffable Glou Glou red made from 100% organic Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, of which I served chilled for its low alcohol and lighter fresh detail. This wine is insanely popular and I missed out on last years, so I begged importer, Floraison Selections, to let me a have a few bottles on its latest release and I’m glad I dd as it performed with a clean and zesty panache in the glass with a ruby/magenta hue and without any reductive funk, pyrasines or overt kambucha tea notes that can flaw up a natural wine. I had been highly impressed with Herlin’s other bottlings I tried last vintage and while I was excited about this Tsoin-Tsoin, it didn’t let me down and while not serious or complex it met expectations for fun. Vibrant sweet and sour cherry, the mentioned strawberry and tangy plum fruits lead the way here with a touch herbs, spice and mineral tones on the dry light/medium bodied palate that makes this simple Franc joyous with picnics and warm afternoon meals. The Tsoin-Tsoin does what is asked and plays well with Summer meals, I like it with beet salad and goat cheese, as well as with mussels in spicy broth, but it can just as happily be enjoyed on its own, while Herlin’s ‘Cintre’ Petillant Naturel (Pet-Nat) and his Bourgueil Rouge are much more serious expressions of varietal (Cabernet Franc), terroir and substance, they are very much worth searching out as well.

Laurent Herlin, according to Nadia Dmytriw, his importer, has been working without chemical inputs since 2009 and his wines are lively and expressive like the soils where his vines are planted, adding that, these wines are a true pleasure to drink, especially for those that are natural and organic wine fans that also want as low a sulphur footprint as possible, as many of his offerings come Sans Soulfre. This 2018 Tsoin-Tsoin was made with with full carbonic maceration with the Cab Franc coming from his biodynamically grown vines, which lie within the Loire’s Bourgueil zone. Following a 2-year training in Beaune in Burgundy, Herlin worked as a trainee in several vineyards, before setting out on his own, knowing he wanted a close connection to the land and wanted to work as naturally as can be. His rise has been quick and he now grows wine on about 6 hectares in the Bourgueil AOC, on limestone soils, even though do to his styles most are not labeled as such, he as mentioned works to, as he puts it, a biodynamic culture (following Demeter rules) and is certified by Ecocert. Herlin makes his wines with a nod to rustic old school traditions, using only native yeasts and, this one saw no oak, but has not been afraid to experiment, with this wine being a playful expression. Without a long family history here or in wine he doesn’t have an ancient cellar, Herlin makes his wine in storehouse on an old farm in the tiny village of Chouze sur Loire. The Tsoin-Tsoin Cab Franc from Lauent Herlin should be drunk family youthful, not that it would be that hard, over the course of the next 6 months to a year, there is no reason to wait.
($21 Est.) 86 Points, grapelive

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