2011 Weingut Monchhof, Riesling Urzig Wurzgarten, Spatlese, Mosel Germany.
The “Monks House” estate, Monchhof, dates back to about 1177 and the underground cellars go back to around 1509, but the modern winery owned by the Eymael family started in 1804 only 210 years as time goes! That is a long and storied history, but it is the current generation and one Robert Eymael that has elevated this estate to new heights of quality and style, much the same way he has done at his sister estate J.J. Christoffel, both being some of the finest wines made in the Mosel, along with Selbach-Oster and Schaefer. The 2011 Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese made by Herr Eymael is a lovely and sumptuous Riesling that delivers loads of generous fruit, juicy acidity and crystalline mineralite. Impressively balanced and accessible even it’s youth this first class Riesling with certainly entertain and intrigue for many many years to come, and it is a stunning value in it’s price class. The Monchhof 2011 Spatlese starts with tropical essences, citrus flowers, wet river stones and honeyed peach leading to a welcoming palate of pineapple, candied lime, apricot and forceful citrus fruits along with ocean/brine, steely notes and a great play between succulent sweetness and zesty acidity and added elements of basil, ripe melon and spiced apple. The finish is crisp, finely detailed and mildly sweet making this a wonderful choice with spicy asian cuisine, or smoked meats, pork especially, but also I can see it being a great summer white. This is looking like a perfect wine to cellar for a few years too, but hard not to indulge in now, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 Domaine Weinbach, Pinot Blanc, Reserve, Alsace, France.
The wines of Laurence Faller are lovely and deeply flavored, I have long been an admirer of Domaine Weinbach, a truly grand estate in Alsace with a wonderful selection of intriguing offerings from Sylvaner to Vendanges Tardives Gewurztraminer. I adore their Rieslings, especially the Schlossberg, but I also really am smitten with this Reserve Pinot Blanc, this is delicious white wine, and easy to love. Domaine Weinbach is all biodynamic, they’ve been organic for a long while and everything made here is delightfully fresh, balanced and of the highest quality in each level. The 2012 Pinot Blanc Reserve starts with tangy citrus, hints of honey, wild herbs and yellow peach with a palate of good density along with good high-toned acidity. There are notes of apple, pear and a touch of tropical fruit as well that come through in the glass, light mineral and clove too, this is classy and elegant wine that gives plenty for the money. Look for this pretty Pinot Blanc to drink good for 2-5 years and enjoy now, and while winemaker Laurence Faller makes some of my favorite Rieslings, she should not be overlooked for this outstanding Pinot Blanc, and or any of her fantastic wines.
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine de Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits-St.-Georges Clos des Grandes Vignes, Vielles Vignes, Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The Premier Cru Clos des Grandes Vignes in Burgundy’s famed Nuits-St.-Georges is all biodynamic and is a pure monopole site, these Clos vineyards seem to be historic 19th century creations, these walled areas make up some of the best Pinot Noir in the region with some of the oldest vines in Burgundy it’s self, some well over a hundred years old. Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet under Etienne de Montille since 2002 has made Premier Cru from Clos des Grandes Vignes from 2006 to 2012 and has since sold the vineyard in a restructuring of their holdings, which sadly became necessary when Etienne needed financing to purchase the Domaine. His efforts here at Clos des Grandes Vignes are brilliant, and his fantastic 2010 is sublime and one of the best values in top Burgundy I’ve seen from the hailed 2010 vintage with wonderful density, vigor and length, this truly is provocative and stylish Pinot Noir. This old vine cuvee was completely whole cluster and shows lively steamy spices, heightened aromatics and a majestic play of ripe flavors and earthy savory counterpoints, firm tannins, tangy acidity and a silky texture that coats the palate leaving a detailed and long finish. The nose starts with briar, bramble and red currants, a touch of smoke, truffle and pepper leading to a racy mouth of cherry, black raspberry and plum fruits along with minty herbs, anise and pomegranate while mineral, loam, saline and baking spices add complexity. After tasting the latest lineup of Domaine Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet with Etienne, I have no doubt the future is looking bright for this label, I’ve always enjoyed these wines, but this set are a major step up, especially his 2011 whites with a stunning purity and excitement, the St. Aubin and Pulignys really shined, but I could not resist this lovely Nuits-St.-Georges Clos des Grandes Vignes it is simply gorgeous Burgundy and filled with magic, emotion and charm, drink from 2016-2025.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
La Paulee San Francisco Burgundy Week 2014 March 2-15
Don’t miss all the great Burgundy events coming up these next few weeks as San Francisco goes nuts for the Cote d’ Or, the City is an orgy of all things Burgundy between March 2 and the 15th, check out all the events at www.lapaulee.com! I’ll be review some burgundy and I’ll be pouring some too at San Francisco Wine Trading Company with events featuring Pascal Marchand and Philippe Pacalet wines, check these tastings out at www.sfwtc.com. The La Paulee is the west coast’s biggest Burgundy fest and will have some never to repeat tastings, so be sure to visit the City and go Burgundy crazy.
2012 August West, Pinot Noir, Rosella’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Ed Kurtzman’s latest August West Rosella’s follows in his tradition of fruit forward, unfiltered wines and reminds of his brilliant efforts in the past with Roar, and since he is no longer making Roar, this label is getting more quality attention. His 2011 scored 92 in Parker’s Wine Advocate and certainly this vintage is considerably better in all areas with rich density and deeper complexity. This is pure Rosella’s with dark fruits, spice, mineral and lush texture showing this Cru vineyard in it’s best light with black cherry, plum and mountain berry fruits, hints of savory herbs, game and sweet smoky wood. This vintage of Rosella’s is full and polished with good grip, silky ripe tannins and juicy freshness, this is a delicious effort.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 Byron Kosuge, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast.
Byron Kosuge, who also makes the wines for Miura, has really brought his own label into the limelight and his 2012’s a stunning in quality, style and class, they have reached another level and look set to be stars, especially this wonderful Sonoma Coast Pinot that is mostly Hirsch Vineyard fruit. The 2012 vintage gave everything you’d want, color, density, good acidity and complete ripeness, these are going to be cherished wines, generous and balanced, they should also gain with bottle age, so be sure to put a few bottles away. This pretty and balanced wine is a remarkable value and offers up delicate detail and length with stylish red currants, plum, cherry and strawberry fruits, hints of black tea, anise, saline and stony mineral. This classy Pinot is entertaining, balanced and well made, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($34 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2010 Reichsrat von Buhl, Riesling, Reiterpfad Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz Germany.
One of the top and all organic estates in the Pfalz, and in Germany, von Buhl makes some amazing and finely crafted wines, especially their terroir driven Grosses Gewachs Reiterpfad Ruppersberg, this biodynamic beauty is one of the great wines of the region. This intense Riesling showcases the difficult vintage with grace and transparency, while stiff and austere it still manages to fulfill it’s potential with complexity and should even get better in another 3 to 5 years. The estate in Deidesheim in the Pfalz has been making wine since 1849, and is now owned by a couple of Japanese businessmen, unique in Germany and their winemaking team are all young and new generational thinking led by the dynamic Stefan Weber the estate manager. von buhl is in league with Muller-Catoir and von Winning here in the Pfalz and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked in this grand company of artisans. The 2010 von Buhl GG Reiterspfad starts with blistering acidity and dense extract, but while a bit shocking at first, with air everything comes together and the pure quality shines through, the nose is lifted by citrus blossoms, lemon zest and white tea leading to a palate of lime, apple skin, green melon and peach fruits along with steely minerals, chalk, truffle and a whiff of petrol/diesel. This wine quickly turns refined and elegant even, though the vintage is heighten and highlighted throughout and the force of the wine and acidity make this wine much less generous than the 2009, 2011 or 2012 versions I’m sure, though I must admit to be highly impressed by this 2010 and if you want high acid and density then this baby is right for you. Added layers come through in the glass, with flinty notes and exotic tropical fruit unfold as well as wet stones, briny sea shore, grapefruit seed, sour apple and tangerine. This is a wonderful dry Riesling with severe character and personality, though it’s charming nature does prove a winner in the end, drink now through 2024.
($52 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2010 Waits-Mast, Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
Starting in 2007 Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits have quickly become rising stars in the Anderson Valley wine scene and their hand-crafted Pinot is highly sought after. This small micro production winery has finally released their last 2010 Pinot, this late release is the gorgeous Londer Vineyard which is extremely limited and one of the best Anderson Valley Pinots tried this year with great character, cool climate intensity and deep flavors. This generous and artisan made wine has spectacular fruit, balance and structure this is fantastic Pinot Noir. The nose has wild herbs, shaved fennel and kirsch notes along with floral tines and dark fruit leading to a rich and lively palate of plum, cherry and raspberry fruits with hints of cedar, truffle and savory spice. It opens and expands in the mouth revealing strawberry, cranberry and mineral notes and the silky texture turns creamy, but still very precise and focused. This is the best yet from Waits-Mast, don’t miss this well crafted wine, I’m sure it will go fast! Be sure to watch this label, I really was impressed by what I’ve tasted even their 2011 wines are highly successful, and I’m certain the 2012’s will be fantastic too.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2013 Weingut Meyer-Nakel, Rose, Spatburgunder, Ahr Germany.
I’m a long time and huge fan of Werner Nakel’s wines, Meyer-Nakel is one of my absolute favorite producers and his Pinot Noirs are some of the greatest wines I’ve ever had, so it was fun to try his Rose, which I’ve never seen or had before. Meyer-Nakel hail from the Ahr River region of Germany, famous for Pinot or Spatburgunder and he makes about 6 different Cuvees with two Grand Cru or Grosses Gewachs that are as prized as any top Burgundy, these are seriously desirable wines. His pretty and pale Rose is from all Pinot Noir and is wonderfully delicious with freshness and vibrancy, but also complex and intriguing with mineral spice and Pinot character. The nose is flinty and hints of floral essences along with dried currants leading to a palate of strawberry, watermelon, red peach, tangy citrus and chalky stones. Bright and vivid throughout there is a long finish of cherry and unripe plum with a steely crisp texture. This is fun and delightful Rose, unique and focused, enjoy over the next 12 months, perfect for the long warm days of summer to come, I can’t wait until it arrives. Tasted from a pre-release sample bottle, but in fully finished form, look for this wine to be even better with the extra few months of age in bottle.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive (Coming May 2014)
2012 Poe, Pinot Noir, Manchester Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino County.
The newest from Samantha Sheehan is a stunner, her Poe Mendocino 2012 Manchester Ridge Vineyard is absolutely rocking good with generous fruit, perfect pitched detail and a suburb long finish, this is beautifully crafted artisan Pinot Noir. I was an immediate fan of Poe, the Chardonnay was excellent and the Pinots were stylish and graceful, but the 2012’s are on a whole new exciting level, I highly recommend what Poe has to offer in this vintage. The 2012 Manchester Ridge starts with hints of red flowers, including wild roses and spicy elements along with subtle mineral and wood play before giving way to a lively and round palate of black cherry, tangy plum and raspberry fruits with touches of black tea, dry stones and licorice. There is a clear acidity driving the flavors, heightening the focus and very silky mouth filling texture, with air things flow and change adding life and complexity with hints of cedar, cinnamon and truffle notes, plus the glorious finish with strawberry and crisp cranberry, look for a long drinking window on this well put together Pinot too, Drink from 2014-2022.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 von Winning, Riesling, Kalkofen Grosses Gewächs, Pfalz Germany.
The von Winning star has risen and these 2012 wines are masterpieces, without question they are wildly exotic and flamboyant, but they are stunningly gorgeous, they remind of great Burgundy, especially the Grand Cru or Grosses Gewachs. The seriously hedonistic Kalkofen has intense wood and tropical presence, it is a powerful example of rich and dry Riesling that is stylistically unique among it’s peers, and it’s a very non traditional form, it takes a bit of getting used to, though one taste will be mind altering, and transformative, this is amazing wine. Stephan Attmann is a genius and his total focus and soul go into his wines, you can be sure of that and these wines are no compromise efforts that set new standards for Riesling. The sample I tasted in January of 2014 was a barrel selection of the GG Kalkofen, this Grand Cru Riesling from near Deidesheim in the Pfalz is a wonder to behold with a nose of leesy, smoky and perfumed elements, it shows orange, vanilla and lemon curd leading to a palate of dense fruit, juicy acidity and lavish texture and glorious length with banana, papaya, kiwi and apple fruits leading the way along with steely mineral, river stones, savory/sea shore notes, white tea and chalky extract. The wine really is sexy, vivid and packed with complexity, and with air the mouth feel getting even more impressive and full, while the driving core of excitement never fades, this wine is lush and generous, but remains lively and Riesling expressive. There is so much happening it is truly hard to get it all down, so I will just finish by saying the von Winning Kalkofen Grosses Gewachs is one of the great wines of the vintage and while not an easy option on the wallet, it surly is a terrific value for the quality and class you get in the bottle. The von Winning wines are mostly unfined and unfiltered, raised in cask and fermented using all native/natural yeasts in the Grand Cru selections, these are labors of love and shine a new glow on this noble grape, these are not to miss wines. The Kalkofen GG will be legendary and it will certainly have a long cellar life, drink this from 2016-2030.
($85 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive