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Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 17, 2021

2019 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir “The Second Cousin” Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The entry set of wines at the famed Beaux Freres in the Willamette Valley’s Ribbon Ridge AVA are their Les Cousins Pinot Noir sourced from a wide selection of vineyards throughout the Valley and this unique The Second Cousin bottling that was produced solely from barrels (of Les Cousins) that showed a touch of Brettanomyces, a very curious and brave experiment from such a revered property, considering how evil “Brett” can be perceived, and as someone that is non to fond of it and flaws, I was surprised by how pure and enjoyable this elegant Pinot Noir is! Beaux Freres, like their awesome neighbor, Brick House, focus on biodynamics and were inspired by the wines of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Domaine Leflaive and Domaine Leroy in Burgundy and usually produce some of the greatest Pinots in Oregon, so it was interesting to see a winery like Beaux Freres take this kind of risk, but the results were exactly (with some luck for sure) what they had hoped, with the tiny amount of Brett adding some complexity and character without the aggressive almost roadkill like animal or overt barnyard flavors. This 2019 is silky smooth and vibrantly fresh with pretty floral notes, a kiss of sweet smoky toast, racy and youthful layers of black cherry, plum and raspberry fruits that are nicely accented by tea spices, blood orange, cinnamon, mocha, wild herbs and a lingering, underbrush and earthy mulberry note. This lighter framed and delicately perfumed Beaux Freres The Second Cousin is drinking well and round in its youth, maybe hiding the potential Brett nuances at this stage, but I am happy as it is more subtle and the expressive fruit is deeply pleasing as is the wines beautiful dark ruby color, which invites you into the glass.

With Beaux Freres founder Mike Etzel now concentrating on his own label and vineyard, Sequitur, the Beaux Freres winemaking team is now led by the second-generation here with Mikey Etzel and assistant winemaker Aaron Kendall, who have continued the tradition of hand crafting stunning wines, recognized, as they put it, a unique detail marking six of the barrels in the Les Cousins selections, which turned out to be, upon close inspection, a hint of Brettanomyces, or “Brett” as us wine geeks call it, peeking through the aromatics and the thought experiment started. As a yeast strain, Etzel adds, often considered a fault in wines, Brett can be a controversial topic, adding that, on one hand, in large quantities it can be quite unpleasant and distract from other features such as fruitiness, but when present in tiny amounts, as is the case here in 2019 The Second Cousin Pinot, Brett can add a fascinating element (their words, not mine usually, though I can agree in some cases) — a beauty mark of sorts, like on Marylin Monroe (my thought), they hope — that makes a wine distinct. For this reason, wine aficionados, sommeliers, and those who enjoy wines of unique character are often quite intrigued (or frustrated) by wines that show a bit of Brett. So Etzel and Kendall separated the lightly affected “Brett” barrels and bottled it, labeling it as The Second Cousin and released recently with the idea that you might be best served to enjoy it as soon as possible, rather than cellar it as you’d do with most of the other wines from this winery. I actually didn’t know about the Brett when I ordered this one, and being somewhat skeptical, I was very happy with the results and really like this Second Cousin a lot, it got better and better as it opened up and it was lovely with food. Now, if you wanted to really see Brett get funky, you might buy a couple bottles and save one for 3 to 5 years and then try it, as Brett usually grows or flourishes in the bottle, though I would be hard pressed to do that myself.
($35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 16, 2021

2018 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Kabinett, Nahe Germany.
The basic Kabinett from Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel is one of the best buys you can find, this opulent off dry Riesling is a beautiful and wonderfully drinking wine, full of personality, brightness and mineral detail, making it so easy to love. With ever more charm and style, the Kabinett renaissance over the last decade has brought this category back into the limelight, and Diel’s exceptional version is one of the leaders with their examples being refreshing wines, but with depth and complexity usually reserved for the more elite wines in the collection with this 2018 being a sublime vintage. The ’18 Diel Kabinett, coming in at about 8.5% natural alcohol, feels generous on the palate, which hints at its residual sugar, though with its nice acidity and stony nature it drinks more dry overall and is layered with a range of fleshy stone fruit and crisp citrus, it has a mixed bouquet as well with pretty floral and crushed rock notes that leads to the light to medium bodied palate that is racy and clean at first. As you sip on this fine Riesling you gain a sense of the years density and depth of flavors that include green apple, tangerine, tree picked apricot and bitter melon fruits along with a steely element, light flinty smokiness, lemon zest, rosewater, wet stone, saline and a touch of tropical essences and spice. The lingering slight sweet finish is perfectly delightful and pleasing with any cloying effect and clears the palate with a wave of refreshment, making this Riesling great with an array of food choices and or Summer sipping. The Schlossgut Diel wines are crafted with incredible precision in large oak barrels, plus some concrete and in this case mostly in stainless steel tanks, as I have noted in my prior reviews, with a nod to tradition and focus on purity. This wine came from sites that were mostly quartzite and slate and was gently whole cluster pressed, followed by a spontaneous fermentation and extended maturation on the lees in exclusively stainless steel tanks.

Caroline Diel, who was just named Winemaker of the Year, by Falstaff, in Germany is well deserving of this prestigious honor and the wines at Schlossgut Diel are without question some of the most desirable in Europe, with her exceptional skills on full display in these last half dozen or so vintages, especially her majestic set of Rieslings, as well as her fantastic Pinot Noir, which rivals many top Burgundies, along with her now equally famous Sekt (Sparkling Wines) made from long lees aged Riesling, this luxurious bubbly is in a world of its own! Back to her Rieslings, like this entry level Kabinett, coming from vineyards around the famed Nahe estate that her father Armin Diel put on the map with his pioneering severely dry wines during the nineties and now feature some of Germany’s top Grosses Gewachs, like the incredible Goldloch Grand Cru, which compares well with Chablis’ Les Clos. The Nahe is one off Germany’s smallest regions, with a great diversity of soils fro slate to volcanic and gravels plus a warm climate and steep slopes, especially around Schlossgut Diel, making for a dramatic and picturesque setting for grapevines and a quality area for all types of wines, as witnessed by the stellar producers, like Diel, Donnhoff and others that make the Nahe their home. Caroline Diel, who took over the estate in 2012 after joining the cellar team in 2006 also has enjoyed winemaking stints at some famous places including Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in Burgundy and Château Pichon-Lalande in Bordeaux, as well as prestigious German vineyards such as Robert Weil, Toni Jost and Dr. Deinhard/Von Winning, adding experiences that have helped her develop her own style here. She is a graduate of the famous Geisenheim University in the Rheingau and you can tell she took her studies very seriously, her wines are compelling and impeccably crafted, I am a huge fan, and this one is a great way to start exploring her wines. I can’t wait to travel back to Diel, where I last visited at harvest time in 2016, and I highly recommend putting this estate on your bucket list!
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 15, 2021

2017 Piedrasassi, Syrah, Patterson & Sebastiano Vineyards, Sta. Rita Hills.
The wildly feral and savory 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Syrah from Sashi Moorman at Piedrasassi is one of California’s best and unique cool climate (Northern Rhone Style) versions with loads of whole cluster and stem inclusion intensity with deep fruit density, it shows dark berry pie filling, plum, creme de cassis and blueberry as well as vivid violets, tar, licorice, minty herbs and peppercorns along with an earthy and meaty shadow throughout on the medium to full bodied palate. This is a wine that will transport you to the legendary wines of Auguste Clape and Thierry Allemand, giving the same rustic thrill those Cornas wine deliver with a California twist of ripe warmth and a different set of soil influences here that inform you that this wine is from here, but still terroir driven and giving a sense of mineral character and with a touch of chalky stone, making for real Syrah enthusiasts treasure. Sashi has become one of the state’s most admired winemakers over the years, especially his work for Stolpman Vineyards and collaboration with Raj Parr at Sandhi and the Domaine de la Cote, as well as, now, the wines at Oregon’s premier Evening Land Vineyards and his own efforts here at Piedrasassi, where he specializes in Syrah, like this one, plus a little Mourvedre and even his own take on Vin Santo. I have been following the Piedrasassi wines for a long time and love the whole bunches and low intervention style here, these wines are some of the finest examples of Central Coast Syrahs available, especially the Rim Rock Rock Vineyard from the Arroyo Grande AVA and Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria, as well as the Santa Barbera County PS (entry level) Syrah, one of the best values around, and this one from the SRH’s Patterson & Sebastiano Vineyards.

The Piedrasassi wines embrace Syrah’s more funky and edgy side with all that entails, these are not crowd pleasing bottlings, unless like me you have lots of geeky friends of course then they are a huge hit with hints of camphor, robust stemmy notes and some raw tannins coming out of the squat (short) bottle, that was inspired by the shape you see in Giusto Occhipinti’s COS winery in Sicily’s Vittoria region. Moorman used tried and true old world techniques in the cellar with the use of indigenous or wild yeats, the heavy use of whole cluster and low sulphur in his fermentations that come naturally or spontaneously. Sashi, who loves cement vats for primary ferments, uses mainly large used French oak barrels raising his own offerings like this one. The grapes that go into his Piedrasassi are from mostly holistic or sustainably grown vines and with ultra careful sorting, both in the vineyard and back in the winery, with this 2017 being a blend of 80% from the Sebastiano Vineyard and 20% from the Patterson Vineyard, which Sashi has been using only for a couple of vintages now, but one that he thinks has great potential, lying on a cool north-facing slope of the Santa Rosa Hills, just above the famous Sine Qua Non’s estate vineyard. The highly regarded Sebastiano site was planted back in 2007 on clay based loam over limestone soils, with these Syrah vines, as Sashi notes, exposed to relentless Pacific winds that give the wines their aggressive nature and good acidity. The 2017 vintage finished with a heat wave and you’d expect it to be more fruit forward, but you’d be wrong here with this Sta. Rita Hills Syrah, which is much more briar laced, spicy, with loads of Umami and crushed rock along with zesty cinnamon and a touch of beef tartar. It would be well advised to decant this vintage and be sure to enjoy it with robust cuisine that allows the prettiness and purity of the fruit to come out, drink this impressive wine over the next decade.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 14, 2021

2020 Ochota Barrels, Grenache “The Green Room” McLaren Vale, South Australia.
Much the same as last year’s version the low alcohol and naturally styled Ochota Barrels Grenache The Green Room delivers lots of drinking pleasures with its pretty and juicy red fruits, led by crushed raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate, plum and morello cherries, along with spicy and herbal notes, with a hint of earth, anise and a touch of whole bunch zestiness, mineral and floral tones. At just 11.2% natural alcohol this 2020 vintage is infinitely quashable and refreshingly bright in personality with supple medium bodied, not exactly what you’d expect from old vines in the historic old vine region of McLaren Vale, but oh so delicious and lovable. Sadly we lost the revolutionary winemaker Taras Ochota last year, after the 2020 harvest, but Amber Ochota, his wife will continue on, inspired by his life band passion, from their home on a tiny and steep sloped patch of land deep in the Basket Range of the beautiful Adelaide Hills wine region, where they have farmed and make some of the most intriguing Australian wines over the last decade. The Ochota wines were inspired by small family domaines that handcraft biodynamic wines in the south of France. like in parts of the Languedoc and the Luberon and the wines are made with native yeasts, with loads of whole cluster and ultra low sulfur to allow the grapes and vineyard sites to express themselves in their most natural and pure form. This vibrant and expressive Grenache, in true Glou Glou fashion is a perfect wine to enjoy with friends and great with simple meals and is tasty with a slight chill, making it great with picnics, BBQ and sunset quaffing.

The vividly ruby hued Ochota Barrels “The Green Room” Grenache Noir comes from classic old bush vines planted back in 1946 on a combination of schist and limestone in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia and was lovingly hand crafted using lessons learned over twenty years and inspired by small biodynamic wines in southern France with native yeasts, whole bunches and ultra low sulfur to allow the grapes to express themselves in their most natural and pure form. The Ochota Barrels story began, as legend has it and noted in my earlier reviews, on a surf trip, in late 2000 when the world traveling couple, Taras and Amber, were trekking along the west coast of Mexico in a Volkswagen fried-out Kombi (camper van), yes, like The Men at Work song. As they enjoyed the waves, sunsets and the remote nature of the peninsula, they thought about what was going to be their next big adventure and hatched a plan to make what they hoped would be a generation of beautiful holistic wines back home in South Australia. After, what Taras called, a misspent youth playing a Rickenbacker bass in various punk bands, he found wine, and he got an oenology degree from Adelaide University, one of the most prestigious wine schools in the world and made wine in France, Sicily and here in California, notably working for Kunin, Bonnacorsi, Arcadian, Schrader, Outpost and Hitching Post. The whole wine world is still morning the loss of Taras Ochota, who passed too young, at age 49 back in October of 2020, and we are all rooting for Amber, who just finished, with the help of friends and family her first crush without Taras, and I look forward to her future releases.
($38 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 13, 2021

2018 Envinate, Migan Tinto, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
The raw and spicy 2018 Migan Tinto is a beautifully complex and lighter style medium bodied red from one of the most remote and unique wine terroir in the world, it is sourced from two very old parcels of cordon trenzado (braided vines) Listan Negro (also known as a Mission grape and or Pais) on the volcanic soils of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, notably off the west coast of Africa. Most all of the Envintate wines are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the notable exception being the Alicante Bouschet based Albahra, that I recently reviewed here, that has the Mediterranean Sea nearby, and this Migan reveals a salty crisp element to go with that volcanic mineral rich character. This vintage is nicely ripe in nature, but there is a sultry earthiness that is compelling in this medium bodied effort with intriguing layers of pure Listan Negro, with its vibrant acidity, it is about the same weight as a Pinot Noir, and with fine grained tannins, this includes strawberry, briar laced raspberry, pomegranate and tart cherry/cranberry fruits along with pronounced red spices with cayenne and pepper flakes, iron, a hint of a gamey element (a faint bit of Bret) common in old world wines that is not unwelcome here as well as dried floral notes, snappy herbs and crushed rock. This distinctive wine is for wine geeks and benefits from savvy pairings, it is not going to be a mainstream crowd pleaser, but certainly hugely rewarding to those that either know this producer or their wines.

Enivante, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez, makes some of the most exciting wines in Spain and they make their wine in a very authentic and natural style, To achieve the goals of the winery, no chemicals are used in any of the Envínate vineyards, from the Canary Islands to the Ribeira Sacra, all grown with organic methods, all their grapes are hand harvested, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with either partial or 100% whole bunches with stem inclusion. The raising of the wines is done in old well seasoned wood and or concrete vats, and sulfur is only added at bottling, if it is absolutely needed, usually just a small dose, all to allow the wines to speak directly from the vineyard sites. As noted, this Migan saw its two parcel blocks macerated and fermented separately with both the plots hand-harvested, foot-trodden with the La Habanera, the highest up on the volcano with sandy soils, seeing 100% whole clusters, while the San Antonio, the older set of vines that average between 90 to 120 years old, only getting about 15% whole cluster, both saw their primary ferments in large concrete vats, then the wine was pressed and racked into a mix of small 228L barrels and larger 600L neutral French oak casks for malolactic conversion and aging for close to 11 months. As I mention, this delicately ruby colored wine has a saline and smoky/stony personality, coming from its volcanic mountain underpinning, it gains a lot from air and food, I especially recommend spicy sea food dishes, like grilled octopus or calamari and or Middle Eastern cuisine.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 12, 2021

2018 Chiara Boschis – E. Pira & Figli, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
The youthfully fruit forward and fresh Langhe Nebbiolo from Chiara Boschis’ famous E. Pira & Figli Barolo estate is made from all organic vines at her Monforte d’Alba property and is truly a “Baby Barolo” with pure Nebbiolo character in an easy to enjoy (now) medium bodied style with pretty dark fruits, delicate earthiness, a bright acidity, subtly perfumed and with polished tannins. Coming from Chiara’s younger vines this 2018 shows plenty of ripe flavors and terroir nuance, making it quite an exceptional little wine and one you don’t feel guilty about opening on a Sunday night in April without any meal planned or the need for hours of decanting. This vintage is bursting with energy and vigor, but has a supple and elegant mouth feel with layers of brambly raspberry, damson plum, earthy mulberry, wild lingonberry and reduced cherry fruits along with minty mountain herbs, a hint of cedar, anise, irony mineral spice and dried violets. There is just enough rustic edges to remind you that this pure Nebbiolo, but over all there is a lovely balance and a sense of grace here, it brought lots of joy and smiles with its inviting aromas, complexity, fruit density and alluring deep garnet/ruby hue easily seducing this Nebbiolo lovers eyes, nose and taste buds.

I am a huge fan of Chiara Boschis, the first female winemaker in the Langhe, and her legendary Barolo offerings, especially her otherworldly Mosconi and Cannubi cru Baroli, when I get a chance to try them, plus I adore her incredible Dolcetto and Barbera wines and her Via Nuova Barolo, one of the great values in the region. This wine, made to be drunk in its youth, is also certainly worth searching out, it was traditionally fermented and then aged in small barrels to help soften the wine in a more quick fashion, but doesn’t take away from the quality of this excellent Nebbiolo. Once the brash (kick ass) youth who broke through the chauvinistic glass ceiling to hang out as equals with the Barolo Boys, Chiara now is one of the thought leaders in the Piedmonte region and has inspired countless women winemakers here in Italy and around the world, she endured a lot of bigotry to achieve her success, but now her wines are some of the most coveted in the world. It is also worth noting, Chiara Boschis was the first estate in Cannubi to convert to all organic farming, and her own efforts has led to a historic change in Barolo, in fact she has, in the last few years to convince the rest of the growers in this famous district to become organic as well, quite an achievement and one we will all benefit from. If this basic Langhe Nebbiolo excites as it does, I can only imagine how good the Barolo(s) will be!
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 11, 2021

2018 Alfaro Family Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Alfaro Family Estate Vineyard, Corralitos, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The beautifully deep 2018 Alfaro Family Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, with its dark garnet and bright ruby color, is seductive and very pleasing on the silky medium/full bodied palate, showcasing the quality of Richard Alfaro’s vineyard and this part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which gives lovely opulent fruit density and nice natural acidity all with complex ripe layering and refined alcohol levels, especially in vintages such as this that finished with 13.5%. This bottling is absolutely one of the tastiest to date and I admired the ease with the wine combined with food and also just how good it was all by itself, I couldn’t help but have an extra glass of this delicious stuff. The 2018 vintage with its long cool growing season has a lively energy to go along with fabulous fruit development and looks to be a classic in these parts, and I hear the 2019s are looking just as good, if not even better, so this is great time to stock up and or discover the Alfaro wines, especially the Pinots, like this one and the exceptional Chards, plus Alfaro’s unique and crisply mineral driven Gruner Veltliner. This Estate Pinot delivers a wonderful performance with layers of black cherry, raspberry, plum and Moro orange fruits along with sweet toast, mocha, baking spices, sassafras and rose petal tea notes. The smooth and elegant form is pure California Pinot from start to finish, and this Alfaro Estate Pinot is full of charm and personality. The estate wines at Alfaro have long been some of my favorites, with this one always being one I gravitate to, though I also love the non estate bottlings too, like their Garys’ and Lester Pinots, I mean there is a lot to enjoy in the Alfaro lineup!

At just over 14 acres, the main Alfaro Estate vineyard, was planted back in 1999 in the Corralitos zone of the most southwest corner of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA with its cool Pacific Ocean influence providing fantastic growing conditions to make world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Richard Alfaro’s impeccably farmed Estate blocks of Pinot Noir vines here, contain nine distinct parcels, each, as Alfaro notes, one is graced with a different combination of clones and rootstock, including a collection 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 and 828 clones. The vine density here is really high at 1361 vines per acre, which gives lots of concentration and intensity, highlighted in vintages as good as this 2018, one of the best I can remember. This vineyard is on a south facing hillside between 500 and 650 feet in elevation on sandy gravels over loam and sandstones. The 2018 Alfaro Family Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir was traditionally fermented using de-stemmed ripe fruit, mostly in stainless steel with some small bin lots as well with cool maceration and then was aged 10 months in 40% new French oak, with just 317 cases produced. Richard Alfaro has gained a well earned reputation for his wines and his top notch farming in the last decade and now he has the talents of his son Ryan in the winery, after he has done stints in New Zealand and with Adam Tolmach, Ojai Vineyards legendary winemaker. Ryan has now also started his own label Farm Cottage wines, releasing a debut Pinot Noir recently and is someone to keep an eye on. The Alfaro’s also farm the old vines at Trout Gulch, where he sells grapes to Arnot-Roberts and Jamie Kutch, and their efforts here are thrilling, in particular the exciting also Chablis like Chards, these are not to be missed either.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 10, 2021

2001 Chateau La Confession, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Red Bordeaux, France.
One of my all time favorite affordable vintages of Bordeaux, and a year that produced some awesome under the radar wines that are still drinking incredibly youthfully, as this very good La Confession is doing right now with a deep purple color, classic right bank aromatics, a beautiful sense of fruit density and a fresh vitality. This wine drinks like a three year old and takes a surprising amount of time to open up, but when it does it provides lots of pleasure, especially those looking for a more classic style without much flash or the more modern Saint-Emilion ripeness and or lavish oak. I can’t wait to dig back into this 2001 Chateau La Confesssion on day two as it really hits its stride and its maturity begins to show, I am impressed with how taut and structured this Bordeaux still gives, it certainly is way better when enjoyed with food and dishes like prime rib and duck breast, with meaty cuisine bringing out the depth of fruit and subduing the earthy elements that are in evidence in the background. The flavor profile includes blackberry, mulberry, plum and dark cherry fruits on the full bodied palate along with an array of accents that include a loamy earthiness, dried flowers, the only thing I can find that hints at this wine’s age, tobacco, cedar, a touch of green spice, black tarry licorice, pencil lead, leafy notes and a lingering creme de cassis aftertaste. The tannins are fine grained and still pretty robust, but not aggressive or harsh and there is a sense of lift from the natural acidity, all of which holds everything together, almost freezing the La Confession in time. I see a lot of people really talking up the 2004s right now, and by all accounts they are over performing and I have admired many from that vintage as well, though I still think these 2001s are fabulous wines and remarkable values.

The Château La Confession, run by Jean-Philippe Janoueix domaines, is vinified using most traditional methods, but includes, the partial use of small “cigar” shaped barrels in the aging of this Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux to add a bit more opulent textural quality with everything done with careful hands to produce an elegant wine. The grapes are double sorted, de-stemmed, but not crushed and filled into small open top oak vats for an extended maceration and primary fermentation that lasts close to 30 days with hand punch downs and pump overs. The La Confession is a blend of about 70% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc and includes a tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon that is grown on the hardened clay and limestone soils of this region and it aged usually in 50% new wood though I would be hard pressed to see that in this wine, which is less overt and wonderfully balanced. Interestingly the winery says the wine is raised for just 6 months on the lees, in the oak, then moved to tank and blended from the small lots. The 2001 is notably less ripe than the latest vintages with 13.5% natural alcohol, while most later wines clock in between 14.5% and 15% and look to be more fruity, especially from 2005 on. There is about three thousand cases produced annually here at Chateau La Confession, which is a good amount, but still making it a bit exclusive, though very reasonable in pricing for the solid performance in the glass. Interestingly, a bit of research found that the 2001 was the debut vintage for Chateau La Confession and winemaker Jean-Philippe Janoueix, who bought this small vineyard and created the Chateau and that adds to the special nature of experiencing this wine, and while original reviews were mixed and the winery didn’t get much attention until their 2005 was released, I found this to be a solid and quality effort, especially at the price. I recommend checking this Bordeaux out, with many vintages available, including the highly rated 2016 and 2018 ones to focus on.
($45 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 9, 2021

2019 Bucklin, Mixed Whites, Old Hill Ranch, Sonoma Valley.
Bucklin’s Old Hill Ranch Mixed Whites Sonoma Valley white wine is a totally unique blend of grapes and includes many varietals that were once much more popular in California than they are now, many that have almost been lost over the years and many that are in revival in the state and made with the same intention to make a field blend as with Bucklin’s classic Zinfandel blends that include close to nineteen different black grapes. This 2019 includes both aromatic and textural grapes, both fighting for your attention on the palate with lots of exotic floral notes and a lush mouth feel, but with fine balance and very moderate alcohol, at 13.2%, it is an intriguing white with fresh details and layers of peach, green apple, an array of citrus, lychee, delicate spices and liquid flowers. As this Mixed Whites opens the bouquet and body really synch up and everything comes together making for a very pleasing wine that can be enjoyed with many dishes including sea foods, Mediterranean cuisine, soft cheeses and Moroccan lemon chicken and couscous. The Muscat and Gewurz lead on the Mixed Whites bouquet with the jasmine, wild peppery spices and seeped roses, while the taste is nicely dry and with a touch of cleared cream and mineral in the background, gaining impact and roundness with air, this is delicious stuff from Will Bucklin.

The Bucklin Old Hill Ranch “Mixed White” block was established on the estate back in 2011, and it was, as Bucklin notes, planted as an ode to the unheralded white grape varieties found in many of Sonoma’s heritage sites and in the region’s historic field blends. The parcel (and the wine) include Muscat, French Colombard, Chasselas, and Clairette Blanc, that are from cuttings that came from the original vines at Old Hill Ranch, with the Gewürztraminer, Trousseau Gris and Riesling coming from the Compagni-Portis Vineyard, the rare Muscadelle was sourced from Casa Santinamaria, the Malvasia and Grenache Blanc were clipped from the Rossi Ranch and the Chenin Blanc came from Mike Officer at Carlisle. Bucklin adds that all the grapes were whole-cluster pressed, then the juice was fermented cool in stainless steel, to preserve the heady perfume and vibrancy in this lovely white wine. After primary fermentation is complete the wine is gentle moved to French oak, all neutral barrels, where it went through malo-lactic conversion and aged sur lie (on the lees) for 6 months before bottling. The results are impressive, and it is like stepping back in time and chance to taste California’s past, especially in this vintage, which highlights the full range of flavors and finer elements in this white blend. It is also a wonderful value too, considering that just three barrels were made, and a wine I recommend highly.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 8, 2021

2019 Desire Lines Wine Co., Winds of Change Red Wine, California.
The new Winds of Change California Red Wine by Cody Rasmussen at Desire Lines Wine Co. is a pure and delicious offering that delivers a full bodied array of ripe dark fruits that feel smoothly rich in the mouth and is distinctly accented by snappy herbs and spices as well as hints of savory elements, mineral tones and delicate florals. The Winds of Change Red is sourced from mostly cool climate sites within the state and shows off its California profile of flavors with a flourish, with the main Syrah component being at this wine’s core and is the most obvious influence with deep blackberry, blueberry, wild plum and currant fruits along with touches of camphor, black licorice, peppercorns and iron notes. Rasmussen, who is an assistant winemaker at Bedrock Wine Company under Morgan Twain-Peterson, has really hit the ground running with his and his wife Emily’s Desire Lines Wine Co. small winery and is certainly one of California’s breakout stars with this latest set of wines being an exceptional set of fine efforts, especially his pure Syrah bottlings from Griffin’s Lair in the Petaluma Gap and Shake Ridge Vineyard, the amazing Amador County site farmed by Ann Kraemer, one of the best growers in the region, as well as Cody’s fantastic Cole Ranch Dry Riesling and the Carignan based Evangelho Vineyard Red, that like this one shows his Bedrock inspiration and shows off his talent for making pleasure filled fruit forward wines, but with a sense of balance, well judged use of oak, and nice contrasted with plenty of crunch and umami elements.

These Desire Lines wines has really left an impression on me since first tasting with Cody Rasmussen and they have just got even more complex and intriguing with the 2018 and 2019 vintages, they are impeccably hand crafted and authentic wines that should not be missed, all of which are impressively noteworthy, especially as mentioned the terroir driven Syrahs, but I highly recommend them all and this new Winds of Change Red is a fabulous value for the quality in the bottle. The final blend here in the 2019 Desire Lines Wine Co. Winds of Change Red ended up being 73% Syrah, plus 10% Mourvèdre, 8% Carignan, 6% Grenache and 3% Petite Sirah which saw a good percentage of whole cluster and was fermented with native yeasts. Rasmussen employs a minimal approach in the cellar, though very precise and clean, he focuses on beautiful fruit density, a supple textural quality, aromatics and allowing the vineyard sites to shine through, all of which is achieved in these new releases. This wine, as with all the reds here, saw its aging in neutral French oak barrels including small larger format puncheons, a vessel that works fantastically well with Syrah. The Rasmussen’s started their label with the 2014 vintage with a small batch of Griffin’s Lair Syrah and five vintages of sublime wines have followed, again I suggest getting some of these as soon as possible and join their mailing list to get future releases, because they will sell out fast. The fresh and dark garnet Winds of Change Red Wine opens up with air and gets better with every sip, it goes extremely well with simple and or rustic cuisine, but easily can be enjoyed with almost anything.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive