2010 Domaine du Haut Bourg, Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu “Le Pavillon” Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France. (Grape: Melon de Bourgogne-Dry White)
This pretty and dry white from the Loire Valley is a perfect oysters or cheese wine that is fresh and lively with round citrus, white peach and mineral tones. This Muscadet is easy easy and flows with a gentle grace and classic style that is both lighthearted, but still serious in detail. Nice lime and wet stones linger on the finish while taught acidity leaves you wanting another sip. Drink over the next 2 or 3 years, but best now.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
Avail. at www.sfwtc.com
2011 Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly Cru Beaujolais, France.
While everyone is desperate to find and hoard all the 2009 Cru Beaujolais they can find, and drinking a few of the lighter 2010’s the 2011 vintage wines are starting to show up and they are looking great with vibrant flavors, depth and freshness, so be sure to pick up your favorite producers early as these will disappear quickly, especially the wines from Kermit Lynch’s stable of top artisans, like this beauty from Chateau Thivin. The 2011 Cote de Brouilly is brightly fruited, but is deeper than the first impression with some nice dark fruits emerging on the palate and lingering a long time on the finish. The nose is classic with cherry, plum sauce, dried violets and tangy blackberry translating on to the palate as well along with a touch of earth, pepper and walnut. There is a fine sense of structure and taught firmness without being to sharp or harsh, but as with Cote de Brouilly this Gamay shows nice intensity and vigor. This is a wine to drink and to cellar, put a few away for a couple of years if you can as it should develop nicely and drink well for 5 to 7 years easy.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2008 Cimarossa, Cabernet Sauvignon “Rive di Cimarossa” Howell Mountain, Napa Valley.
Cimarossa is a label to explore if you’ve not seen it, and the wines deserve merit and lots of attention, this is really good stuff. The transition from Sean Capiaux to Mia Klein has gone extremely well, this fluid change from talent to talent has kept the heart and soul of the vineyard intact and will give Cimarossa it’s own identity, as Sean makes his own fantastic O’Shaughnessy Cabernets next door and Mia will be free to concentrate on the estate’s own unique character. Cimarossa has also created a buzz as a vineyard source, with Tor’s Jeff Ames getting one of Wine Spectator’s highest scores for his Tor Cimarossa Cabernet 2009. I was up at the property a few years back and marveled at the beauty of the place, and really enjoyed the 2007 vintage wines, but I can say the 2008 Cimarossa Rive di Cimarossa Howell Mountain Cabernet is the best yet from the estate and I fell in love with the elegance, style and depth of flavors found in this sublime wine. The nose is striking with acacia flowers, blueberry and lavender notes, along with mineral and spice with a touch of cedary oak and smoke leading to a rich palate of blackberry, creme de cassis and lots of currant fruit while flashes of blonde tobacco, sage and graphite adding complexity. This medium bodied Cabernet is just plain excellent, a beautifully detailed wine that delivers loads of pleasure and leaves a lengthy aftertaste that includes fresh plum, licorice, vanilla and refined sweet tannins. Drinking lovely now, but will age well fort the next 7 to 10 years, this is classy juice.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Rochioli, Pinot Noir “Special Cuvee” Russian River Valley.
The Special Pinot is only available through Rochioli’s tasting room, so be sure to get up that way soon, as it is a nice wine that give pure Rochioli quality for a very reasonable price. The winery sells out of their regular Estate Grown Pinot so fast they need an extra wine to show off at the tasting bar, and when there is a gap between releases, so the Special Cuvee fills the need. I doubt this wine will last long, so don’t wait if you want to grab any. The 2011 Special Cuvee is medium weighted with hints of perfume, spice and dried currants with a vibrantly fresh palate of cherry, plum and raspberry fruits while mineral notes, soft wood essence and sweet herbs add interest with touches of cola bean, pepper and smoke. This is a quality effort from a very tough vintage in the region, and gives lots of hope for the year as more wines come to the market. Enjoy this Pinot over the next 2-3 years and be sure to visit the winery the next time you are up in the Healdsburg area.
($40 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2009 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Proprietary Red, Santa Cruz Mountains.
It is easy to see why the 2009 Monte Bello is getting huge scores and that it is almost a sell out already, it is a truly majestic and pure wine that offers abundant pleasure even now. The new Monte Bello shines with clear definition and detail, this wine is beautiful and alive with flavors, t is not flabby, heavy or overly ripe, in fact the best of the qualities found it this years Monte Bello is it’s lift and lightness on the palate, even though it will certainly fill out over the next few years in bottle. The medium weight and balance really drives this wine to glorious heights with subtle elegant charms from nose to finish, starting with a soft floral and red berry bouquet leading to a round and giving palate of blackberry, dried currants, dusty plum and cherry fruits with creme de cassis, smoky mineral essence like pencil lead and licorice. There are flashes of earth, tobacco leaf and sage like spice along with the impression of refined tannins and structure with a whiff of vanilla on the finish. My thanks to the staff at Ridge’s Lytton Estate for allowing me to sample this fantastic red in an idyllic setting on a perfect late fall afternoon making for a magical experience.
($145-165 Est.) 94-96 Points, grapelive
2011 Sheldon Wines, Grenache “Ceja Vineyard” Sonoma Valley.
It is impossible not to fall in love with this beautifully detailed transparent wine from Dylan and Tobe Sheldon, it is truly captivating and dreamy Grenache. Coming from Ceja’s Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley the new release from Sheldon is a medium weight lightly colored red that delivers in subtle layers rather than boldness, and it is full of pleasure and elegant in ways you don’t usually see in Grenache. The nose is alive with fresh flowers, red and white pepper and sweet lavender leading to a polished and refined palate of crushed berries, wild strawberry, plum and pomegranate essence with hints of cracked peppercorns, licorice root and a touch of new leather. This delicate wine is a true and pure translation of vintage and place that tells a joyful tale and one that lingers on the finish. This soft and silky wine is drinking great now and should provide entertainment for a few more years as well.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine A. et P de Villaine, Mercurey “Les Montots” AC Red Burgundy, France.
This super tasty Burgundy has exotic elements and lush fruit with an almost Gamay quality, but with classic Pinot sex appeal. Much has been said and written about this little Domaine owned by Aubert de Villaine, the managing director of the famed Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, though it is through his experience and guidance that his family estate has become a quality project that remains one of the great value Domaines in the region, and all of his wines offer outstanding quality, especially this Mercurey, which year after year remains one of my favorites. The Les Clous Chardonnay is also a lovely wine, even if I tend to prefer the reds. The 2010 Mercurey is less ripe and fruity than the 2009, but it has better length and balance with blackberry, plum and sweet cherry fruit, some grenadine, dried roses and peppery spice notes. There is no impression of wood, so seamless and pure is this Pinot Noir it leaves only a whisper. This is a very lovely wine that can be enjoyed now and for the next 3-5 years. Imported by Kermit Lynch.
($45-50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com
2009 DEux Montille, Saint-Romain “Le Jarron” AC, White Burgundy, France.
Alix de Montille crafts some of the best great value white Burgundies and her 2009’s are stunning and stylish, especially the 2009 Saint-Romain Le Jerron. This pretty and savvy Chardonnay comes from top parcels in Saint-Romain and it shows fine detailed fruit, mineral and hazelnut character that reminds of Meursault and Chassagne with matchstick, apple and pear fruit, crushed stone and river rocks with hints of fig, honey and lemon. This round offering from DEux Montille is medium to full bodied with ripe and lush texture, made to be enjoyed young and fresh. This is a white Burgundy to search out now and to drink over the next year or two.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($33.95)
2010 Sans Liege, En Gedi, Santa Barbara County.
This blockbuster Grenache is pure Sans Liege at it’s finest with full-bodied explosive fruit, smooth tannins and lengthy finish, bravo to Curt Schalchlin for another rocking good wine. This wine sees about 7% new wood, mostly used and neutral barrels, but gets about two years worth of aging in the oak, which allows for imparting only the subtlest of toast and gives creamy richness to this mouth-coating red. There is quite a bit of Alcohol here, and it does crossed the 15% mark, but in this wine it all works and it should be enjoyed young while it is fresh and sexy. The nose is full of flowers, sweet herbs, pepper and grenadine with pomegranate, cassis and wild strawberries all coming through. The palate is lush with boysenberry, red currants and creamy plum with slightest hints of game, lavender and fennel in the background. Made from a selection of blocks that include Grenache Noir and Alban clone Grenache, plus a 9% splash of Syrah to add a bit of complexity to the whole.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Eva Fricke, Riesling “Seligmacher Lorchhauser” Rheingau, Germany.
This is a true Grand Cru style wine, a totally intense dry Riesling that is salty to the core and a true terroir showcased. Eva’s wines scream terroir and have a sense of place and soil that reflect her total commitment, and this Seligmacher Lorchhauser is a masterpiece. the dry verve and saline intensity is striking and the force of this Riesling on the palate is remarkable, even if it might be a shock to the system, but it will leave you begging for more, and hard core Riesling fans will delight in the purity of fruit without the sweetness many would expect to find. The 2011 wines have taken Eva Fricke to the top and will no doubt prove to be collectors items in the future, and this dry and focused wine has plenty of years ahead of it. The nose is bright with hints of lime and tropical fruit leading to a spicy, mineral laced palate of stingingly dry saline quality, like sea salt covered peaches and citrus fruits with a hint of green apple and lemon rind while a tangerine note lingers in the background. I would compare the vigor and feel to a Grand Cru Burgundy, but never ever forgetting this is classic Riesling with an extra dynamic charge, this is very sexy stuff.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive