2011 Weingut Leitz, Riesling “Leitz Out” QbA, Rheingau.
Johannes “Josi” Leitz’s fun “Leitz Out” Riesling is more serious than the playful label would suggest and gives a whole lot of pleasure for a great price. After years of hearing his last name pronounced incorrectly, he decided to turn a phrase on his label to help people say Leitz as it should be, as in “Lights” and the Leitz Out was born, so for about $14 you get a great fresh Riesling and a touch of language help. Now, my German is Nicht Sehr Gut but, I do know how to pronounce both Riesling and Leitz, now I hope more people will too, plus they will enjoy the wine. The 2011 Leitz Out is bright and citrusy with hints of lime, orange zest, green apple and stone fruit while hints of mineral, pineapple and white flowers linger in the background. With air you get a touch of sweetness, fuller mouth feel and a whiff of petrol. While mostly zippy and dry this Riesling has some good depth and will go great with lots of different foods and is perfect for some fun on a warm summer day.
($14 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2010 Selbach-Oster, Riesling “Zeltinger Schlossberg” Spatlese, Mosel.
Almost every vintage Johannes Selbach makes better wine or comes up with a new expression, it truly is amazing the attention to detail and heart goes into every wine at this fine estate on the Mosel. While 2010 has proved a difficult vintage, it is also a collectors year to put away as the wine are full of natural extract and intensely flavored with gripping acidity and they will need patience and time in the cellar to show their best. While the Kabinett and QbA’s were not quite as pleasing in their youth, the Spatlese and Auslese are beyond sublime and should age many decades, so if you loved aged Riesling, well who doesn’t? You need to grab 2010 Spatlese and Auslese, and I suggest you take a look at Selbach-Oster, especially this 2010 Zeltinger Schlossberg Spatlese. This beautiful and crystalline Riesling opens with white flowers, mineral tones and zesty citrus before revealing green apple, tropical notes and a hint of apricot stone. The heighten vibrant acidity hides the weight and sweetness keeping everything alive and balanced, you can just tell this wine will age majestically for many a year. As alluring as it is now and the richness that comes through in the glass it will only get better and better, so lock a few bottles away if you can keep your hands off them. Trust me, as someone that has drank all of his Riesling like a heroine addict, hide it good… Mosel wines tend to be fresher and brighter with more exotic and subtle flavors and this one has all that and more, note to self: Buy and save.
($30 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
Summer of Riesling Preview: Selbach-Oster
Johannes Selbach of Selbach-Oster, a top estate in the Mosel region of Germany.
2010 Bergstrom, Pinot Noir “Cumberland Reserve” Willamette Valley.
This Pinot Noir is a stunning example of why Oregon continues to intrigue the wine world with this grape, without question it is a wine that seduces the senses and fills the imagination. The earthiness and acidity are remarkably like top Premier Cru Burgundy wines and the intensity and vigor are a welcome surprise considering the difficulties of the vintage. Bergstrom used grapes from some of his favorite sites to craft this wine and of course the famed Shea Vineyard was included adding pedigree, even though Josh Bergstrom is already a star and his wines highly acclaimed and in demand. The nose starts with bright fruit, smoke, truffle, spice and hints of forrest floor notes before opening on the palate to blackberry, tangy cherry and dusty plum fruits while touches of red mineral, nectarine and floral tea spice play in the background. As good as this wine is now, it should be given plenty of air at this point, but I highly recommend letting it cellar for a few years as it should really gain complexity and fill out with bottle age. As with most of Bergstrom’s organic wines a touch of savory funk, classic Burgundy like notes, comes out when the bottle is first opened, but blows off quickly to reveal the purity of fruit and terroir.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Angeli, Syrah by Stolpman Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley.
Absolutely one of the finest Syrah wines in California, period. Sashi Moorman has outdone himself with this vintage of Angeli (100% Syrah) and created one of the world’s great wines and Stolpman has again proved to be a fantastic terroir in providing the grapes for this lovely red. This dark, lush and otherworldly wine has crushed violets, black olive, pepper, game and garrigue to go with beautiful boysenberry, blueberry, black currant, cherry and creme de cassis layers. This magical Syrah can stand up to the best of Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, Barossa Valley and Cornas no question, and for the die hard Syrah fans this is a must have wine. Lingering lavender, truffle and bitter coco add to the complexity of this fine and vibrant wine.
($68 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2010 L’Aventure “Optimus” Estate, Proprietary Red, Paso Robles.
Stephan Asseo’s L’Aventure winery is one of the most intriguing estates in California, let alone Paso Robles and his wines have a noble richness and depth that would make many a Napa winemaker jealous, and his countrymen back in Bordeaux. I have enjoyed most every vintage of Stephan’s remarkable wines, though I admit I have missed the last couple, so it was wonderful to get a chance to taste his latest efforts and again his talents show through as does the terroir of his vineyards. Asseo is from Pomerol and was a Bordeaux winemaker before pursuing the American Dream, moving lock, stock and barrel to the wilds of Paso Robles, this transition was a huge culture shock for him and his family, but they have since thrived in their new home and his wines show his happiness and passion in full glory. I remember his very first offerings, a beautiful and stunning Zinfandel, but I remember laughing at the high price, scoffing and moaning, but he has made it all work, especially since his own vines have come into full maturity and that his chosen cepage are now in the blends. He makes a Rose, Roussanne, Cote a Cote (Grenache, Mourvedre & Syrah) Estate Cuvee (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot) Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and this red blend called Optimus, which is also a unique cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot. The 2010 Optimus is opulent and thick with gobs of rich, dense fruit all wrapped in sweet French oak, and while hedonistic this wine shows fine balance and finessed details somewhat like Chateau Anglus or Pavie from Saint-Emilion, but clearly a unique wine that stands alone. The nose has dark spring flowers, charred embers, black olives and vanilla with heaps of creme de cassis, boysenberry and blueberry which all continue on the expansive palate, intensely mouth filling and full of youthful vigor and grip, though the tannins are lush and sweet. There is a touch of sage spice, cedar and blonde tobacco that appear in the background and the finish has black currant and licorice notes that linger on and on. This wine, as all of Stephan’s offerings are an experience you must explore, and I recommend you search them out, and or visit his estate in Paso Robles.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2006 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Ridge Monte Bello is an iconic California wine, one that has a long and remarkable track record for greatness, so it is always a pleasure to taste it, and especially to be able to try a vintage a few years after release, like this 2006, so many thanks to Ridge Vineyards for letting me sample this wonderful wine. I always think Monte Bello is like crossing Chateau Margaux with Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, but all the while being a true California wine with a sense of it’s own terroir. The 2006 Monte Bello is close to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with a good dose of Merlot, plus tiny amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot all of which is close to normal for Ridge and it works beautifully in this pretty and elegant red. Monte Bello usually takes a few years in bottle to fill out, and the 2006 is just starting to flap it’s wings and flex it’s muscles showing acacia flowers, graphite, smoke and creme de cassis before a richly textured palate of blackberry, plum and lots of cherry fruit while tobacco leaf, sage spice, mineral tones and cedar all add to the complexity of this refined Bordeaux blend. The spicy and sweet wood notes frame the wine in a very soft and subtle way and while the tannins are silky there is lots of grip and a long life ahead for this classic wine. As a note, wine buyers that are considering top wines for their cellars should invest in Monte Bello, these wines are as good as the First Growths and the price is less than a fourth, making it a fantastic value, and for the record I bought one to put away and will continue to buy them, as well as the Estate Cabernet.
($145 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2011 Clos Ste. Magdeleine, Cassis Rose, Provence France.
A warm San Francisco evening inspires and what better way to bask in such glories than with a lovely dry Rose from Provence, in fact that is what I did, I enjoyed the whole bottle. Clos Ste. Madeleine, imported by Kermit Lynch, is one of the best domaines in Provence and their Cassis Blanc, mostly Clairette, is a masterpiece of near perfection, but their Rose is a rare treat, much in the same way Domaine Tempier’s Rose is. The new 2011 Clos Ste. Magdeleine is a beauty with tangy citrus, mineral and savory spices, while at 12.5% it can be celebrated without the threat of a hangover, lucky for me, as this wine is pure joy. The “Maggie” starts with nectarine, sour cherry, strawberry and crisp watermelon with a vidid mineral streak, finishing bright and dry. Round texture on the palate and hints of spice give extra pleasure, as does the crisp clean nature of this Rose making it great to savor on it’s own or with a mix of foods. Sadly, it is rare and costly, but worth chasing down, no question this is a jewel!
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com or through Kermit Lynch
2009 Antica Tenuta del Nanfro, Frappato, IGT Sicily.
All biodynamic and made as natural as possible, Antica Tenuta del Nanfro was an inspiration to the natural winemaker movement, including Arianna Occhipinti, and Nanfro’s Frapatto showcases the terroir and grape in an elegant and earthy fashion. The lingonberry, mulberry and wild mountain berry fruits mix with earthy spice and truffle earthiness. Drink young and be sure to store in a very cool and dark place. These wines are at there best when fresh and served slightly chilled, where the fruit really pops and the acidity keeps things in check. This Frappato is drinking great and clean now, though Nanfro can be slightly funky, so best to decant when possible. Can’t wait to taste the 2010, which should be even better and out soon.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2009 Cantina Pedres, Cannonau di Sardegna “Ceraiso” DOC, Sardinia, Italy.
Cannonau is the local name for Grenache on Sardinia, and is one of the principal grapes in the island’s deeply colored, full bodied red wines, that can be very Gigondas like.The grape is called Cannonau as a tribute to the Spanish soldiers that fought Nepoleon’s invading army to the last canon ball, a romantic tale surly and one of my favorites. Wild strawberries, black raspberry, bramble, earth and spice flow hedonistically across the broad palate. This lush wine fills the mouth and lingers on the finish with added touches of pomegranate, licorice and hints of pepper.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2008 Fattorie Romeo del Castello “Vigo” Etna Rosso DOC Sicily.
Fattorie Romeo del Castello is run by winemaker Chiara Vigo, though she is helped in the vineyards and the cellar by the famed Salvo Foti, and Salvo has been helping her with natural winemaking and vineyard practices. The Vigo shows earthy characteristics in the nose, and the terroir of volcanic ash and lava, leading to a refined palate that the 70-100 Year old Nerello Mascalese vines produce this wine. Deep and pure red fruits, mineral spices, hints of truffle, game and blueberry skins come through in silky layers while sexy wild strawberries and lavender oil linger on and on. This wine is vivid and vibrant, with just the right amount of funk, very much like a classic Nuits-St.-George and food is key to full enjoyment.
($48 Est.) 92-93 Points, grapelive