Monthly Archives: February 2015

Wine of the Day February 18, 2015

2011GillesCornas2011 Guillaume Gilles, Cornas, Rhone Red, France.
The first vintage I tried was the Gilles Cornas 2007, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since, this is a fantastic Domaine, making some of the most exciting Syrah you can get your hands on. Guillaume Gilles was the longtime protege of Robert Michel, a classic vigneron that guided Guillaume and transitioned into retirement by gifting his vines and cellar to the young winemaker, who has taken full advantage and who has honored his mentor by raising the quality and turning out some lovely and mind-blowing wines. This handcrafted Cornas is maybe the best red I’ve tasted this year of the hundreds of new releases I’ve been getting through, it is farmed and made by hand using natural/organic methods, these are wondrous wines of terroir, pureness and passion. The 2011 coming after the 2009 and 2010 vintages had a lot to live up to, and wow, it completely blew me away, if you like Syrah, you must find a few bottles of this glorious Cornas… I could just leave it at that, you MUST try this wine. The 2011 Guillaume Gilles Cornas comes from small mostly old vine parcels including some Chaillot (one of Cornas’ best and cherished sites/crus), so you know it has it’s sense of place and pedigree starting with beautiful floral detail, violets and incense, wild minty herbs, pipe tobacco, meat, iron and fine pepper leading to a palate of boysenberry, blueberry, plum, cassis/currant and mulberry fruits along with truffle, game, graphite/embers, black licorice and sticky lavender all come through in layers in this magical and deeply purple/black/garnet hued Syrah. Hints of cedar, new leather and kirsch come through on the super sexy long finish that lifts the blue and black fruits back to the forefront of your mind. This young wine is firm, but very textural and sensual with finessed tannins, balanced acidity and at 13.5% alcohol it is deftly focused, generous and full of heightened pleasure, drink from 2015 to 2024.
($76 Est.) 95-97+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 17, 2015

2014PrielerRose2014 Prieler, Rose of Blaufrankisch, vom Stein, Burgenland, Austria.
Coming in May of 2015 is this beautiful and very rare Rose of Blaufrankisch from Georg Prieler, this bright and spicy pink wine has loads of character and flavor packed into a liquid mineral frame, and it should be a wine to search high and low for upon release late this Spring. This was a dry thrilling example of Rose that show a great touch, vibrancy and has a pretty lingering finish, this wine and Nigl’s Rose from the Wachau are leading the way in Austrian pink this year, and they’ll deserve some attention this summer. The 2014 Prieler, which I tasted from a barrel sample, is imported by Terry Theise and should be arriving by May of this year, it was one of many great bottles shown to me by Georg Prieler, this is a winery to check out, with a string of fantastic vintages recently, especially compelling among the current wines were his gorgeous 2013 Ried Sinner Chardonnay, the Blaufrankisch Ried Johanneshohe and the Seeberg Pinot Blanc. The 2014 Rose starts with heady floral aromas, wild herbs, strawberry and peppery spices with a crisp mineral driven palate of tart cherry, crushed violets, wet river stones, red apple skin, hints of raspberry and peachy notes. This vivid hued pink is refreshing and zesty, but has some real texture and finesse, it certainly will give some high price Bandol a run for there money this coming season, this is glorious and utterly quaffable stuff, drink from 2015 through 2016.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 16, 2015

2013vonWinningParadeisgarten2013 Weingut von Winning, Riesling, Paradiesgarten, Trocken, Deidesheimer, Pfalz Germany.
The dry Paradiesgarten Riesling from von Winning is a killer wine and a great value in what you get inside the bottle, this is beautiful and vividly intense Riesling that excites the palate and engages the mind, much in the same way Burgundy does, and this wine is somewhat like Premier Cru Chablis, but may I dare say better! The 2013 version is absolutely delicious with vibrancy, fleshy extract and layers of tangy fresh fruits, liquid mineral and flashes of the exotic, the vintage is really starting to blossom and fill out all the missing pieces of it’s youth, it is really finding it’s feet, after being underrated after harvest, and these von Winning wines prove the year was worth some patience and will be great in the cellar. Especially good and now exceptional is this Trocken Paradiesgarten Deidesheimer which starts with a shinning light gold/green hue in the glass, a bouquet of white flowers, citrus, chalk dust and salty sea notes which leads to a mouth filled with zingy and zesty grapefruit, white peach, lime, tangerine, an almost cherry note, pineapple, verbena, green tea, herbs and loads of stony mineral. There is plenty of evolution to come here and while I adore it’s austere brisk nature, it should round out over the next 3 to 5 years, though it won’t be necessary to age it if you are looking for refreshing summer or food wine and I find it very impressive with it’s youthful vigor in full force, this wine is a classy acid freaks wine, of impeccable quality, wonderfully crafted, Pfalz terroir driven and racy, drink from 2015 to 2023. This wine is a great introduction to the upper level of the von Winning wines, but if you are looking for total mind-blowing experiences, you should try the von Winning Grosses Gewachs-Grand Crus which take Riesling to heights that put the Burgundians to shame!
($32 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 15, 2015

2012RoussetMartinSavagnin2012 Francois Rousset-Martin, Savagnin “Vignes aux Dames” Cotes du Jura, White, France.
The tiny boutique winery of Russet-Martin does not much more than a thousand cases each vintage, and not much of it gets to the US, but Kermit Lynch kindly was showing there new Jura find around and it was very exciting to taste these rare goodies, especially compelling was this brisk, non-oxidative Savagnin, the Vignes aux Dames. This was my first and only time to taste Francois Rousset-Martin and I was very impressed, these latest wines are all well made and interesting wines, though I do prefer the less sherry like style with the vivid fresh character more to my tastes, but traditional minded Jura fans will certainly love the 2008 Clos Bacchus Savagnin with it’s nutty pure charm, these both will age for another decade easily. The Jura region is seeing lots of excitement, and exploitation with big firms and even Burgundy houses buying vineyards and wineries in this once mysterious and isolated place, so it is nice to discover a new face and one with generational roots get some success, especially with the generational changes going on with retirements and the younger set starting to make their mark on the world stage. The Rosset-Martin Savagnin 2012 Vignes aux Dames is young and tight with good intensity, persistence and vigor showing lemon/lime, quince, kumquat and unripe apple fruits, hints of hay/straw leesy notes (both taste and textural), mineral essence and bitter almond oil. The color is light golden and the body fills out with air, it has plenty of tangy acidity and puckering zest, it has a lot of drive, focus and balance, but it needs a bit of cellar time to come out of it’s shell, I should imagine it will develop into a stunning example over the next 3 to 5 years. There will be those that can’t wait, and while that might be a shame, they will not be disappointed in this intriguing Jura white, drink from 2016 to 2022.
($35 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 14, 2015

2012LagierMeredithTribidrag2012 Lagier Meredith, Tribidrag, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley.
Steve Lagier and Carol Meredith make some of the most unique and terroir driven wines in Napa Valley, and their Zinfandel aka Tribidrag is a sensational wine that shows a vibrant array of flavors and gives tons of pleasure. Dr. Meredith is one of the world’s top experts on wine grapes and vines, and speaking with her is always enlightening and her enthusiasm is contagious, especially about her work on the origins of our state grape, Zinfandel. The history of Zin was a long and winding road, but finally through DNA and great detective work we can now say, without any doubt, that Zinfandel came from Croatia and it is known there by the name Tribidrag. With the mystery of it’s heritage solved, Steve and Carole now label their Zinfandel by it’s true name Tribidrag and it ranks up there with the very best in the state. The new release, the 2012 is a beautiful mountain influenced wine with a good dark hue of ruby and garnet, it is spiced filled and wonderfully layered with balanced fruit, briar and length. The palate is vivid and totally seducing with plum, black raspberry, a mix of cherry and blueberry along with pepper, sweet herbs, anise, cedar notes and stony elements. There is vigorous focus and drive, but with wonderful texture and supple tannins, this will be an interesting wine to follow over the next decade, though it is certainly engaging now, this is an exciting and special Zin (Tribidrag) that I highly recommend, as well as their fantastic Syrah, plus they make Mondeuse, a rare Savoie varietal and a super Malbec from their estate on Mount Veeder, these all are classy efforts.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 13, 2015

2013LuytCarignan2013 Louis-Antoine Luyt, Carignan, Cuvee Mathilde, Sin Riego-Rio Reloca, Chile.
French natural winemaker, Louis-Antoine Luyt, former assistant at Marcel Lapierre, has turned his wines from a fun curiosity to some ultra serious stuff in a few short years, and this 2013 Carignan from ancient vines is by far the best and most exciting yet. Luyt has built up quite an impressive collection, he makes a few different lines of wines, lots made from 200 to 300 year old Pais (Mission Grape) vines, a Carmenere, a Pinot Noir and this gorgeous and vibrant Carignan. All organic vines, native yeasts and ultra low if not no sulphur, with good extraction and bright flavors make Luyt’s wines stand out and they have created a lot of buzz, making him the Natural Wine guru of South America. This ripe, dark and rich 2013 Carignan, 13.9% alcohol, bursts from the glass with an array of floral tones, loamy earth, mineral and a mix of spice and dark fruits leading to a medium/full palate of blackberry, pomegranate, sugar beet, raspberry, wild strawberry and plum along with tangy peach, pepper, minty herbs, truffle and cedar notes with baking spices, anise and gravelly/stony elements. There is no question the terroir plays a huge role here, the sandy soils west of Andres and unique climate all play a part here along with these 150 year vines, this is a vivid and sexy expression of what can be done in Chile, other than cheap Merlot and Cabernet, and this wine in particular is thrilling stuff, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($25 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 12, 2015

2010SansilvestroBarolo2010 Cantine Sansilvestro, Barolo DOCG “Patres” Piedmonte, Italy.
This is a down right steal, a good to outstanding Barolo, under $35, and from a seriously great vintage, San Silvestro imported by Siena Imports has nailed it with this wine. Coming from what is being called the vintage of our generation 2010, this richly flavored and layered Barolo is already drinking pretty darn good, and it should really improve over the next few years in bottle, but this certainly is a wine to drink young as it is pleasingly up front and forward. Most top 2010’s are so tight, you’ll need a good decade to get your head around them, but here is a softer, more gentile Nebbiolo to give you a solid look see at what this vintage has to offer. While modest, the Cantine Sansilvestro Patres gives floral bouquet, salty/spices, hints of game, iron/blood and kirsch leading to a classic palate of tart cherry, plum, raspberry and red currant fruit, hoisin sauce, black fig, wild herbs, truffle, licorice and tar notes. There is some firmness, and tannic structure along with lifting acidity, but overall this is fairly poised and inviting with nice and pretty detail, finesse and charm. There is some pleasure to be found in this low key offering, and while the 2008 Barbaresco is more austere and mature and the 2012 Nebbiolo d’Alba offering varietal purity at under $20, it’s this fine Barolo that steals the show, drink from 2016 to 2020, this is a super effort, be sure to keep an eye out for it.
($34 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 11, 2015

2013SamsaraPN2013 Samsara, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills.
Chad Melville’s artisan handcrafted wines are worth searching out, especially his single vineyard Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah offerings, but the basic Santa Rita Hills Pinot should not be overlooked either, it is a stunning value and pleasure filled experience. It was great to sit down and catch up with the talented winemaker and get a chance to visit through most of his collection and hear his thoughts, Melville also puts his time in for his family estate, one of the premier wineries in the greater Santa Barbara area and beyond, but those wines are guided along by Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton, so Samsara is a very personal passion. The sandy soils, cool climate and beauty of the Sta. Rita Hills shine through in the Samsara wines, and Chad’s winemaking is very different than the wines of Melville, Chad uses only native/natural fermentations, very slow basket pressing and partial whole cluster/stem inclusion which highlight the bright vibrant flavors and spicy elements, these micro batch wines are raw, transparent and vivid expressions of terroir. The longer elevage in the Syrah and single vineyard Pinot Noir selections have worked wonders with the 2011 vintage, they are some of the finest examples I’ve tasted, they might be the best 2011’s I’ve tried, and from such a difficult year they are gorgeous, in particular look for both Melville Vineyard Pinot Noir and Syrah, Los Hermanas Pinot Noir and Larner Grenache, they are all fantastic, plus the 2012 Rancho la Vina Pinot is rocking good too. The 2013 Samsara Santa Rita Hills Pinot is a gem, beautifully detailed, opulently lush and complex with wild flowers, heady perfumed bouquet, strawberry, plum and sweet cherry fruit along with red tea, cinnamon stick, pomegranate and fleshy red peach note. This wine is a huge success, I adored the 2012, but I find the 2013 even more divine with tons of character already, the rich palate is held in place with juicy acidity, precise tannins and a hint of wood framing. This wine is just getting started and certainly with entertain for years to come, it’s plush red fruits, savory/mineral tones, tangy anise, saline, cayenne and sexy mouth feel make this a do not miss wine, drink from 2015 to 2020, this is another stellar set of wines from Samsara, very impressive across the board and seductive to say the least.
($32 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 10, 2015

2012LignierChambolle2012 Domaine Georges Lignier, Chambolle-Musigny AC, Red Burgundy, France.
This Chambolle comes from 100% estate owned, 70 year old vines set in nice parcel with plenty of limestone and old soils, it certainly tastes more than village level, plus the vintage, makes for an exquisite red Burgundy by Benoit Stehly and Domaine Georges Lignier. Last month I was able to taste through a few vintages and vineyards of Lignier, with an impressive response to their their lineup, especially the Clos St.-Denis and Clos de la Roche, but this Chambolle-Musigny starred for price and quality. The 2011 wines are more open and generous at this stage and should not be forgotten or dismissed, they really were excellent, rating even higher for pleasure, I highly recommend checking them out, but for cellaring, the 2012’s look to be a bit stronger and have more raw power and force with deeper concentration. That all said, the Geoges Lignier 2012 Chambolle-Musigny is a beautiful and well crafted wine of old school charm and manners with fresh vibrancy, it is very dynamic on the palate with lovely terroir distinction showing with wilted roses, mineral notes, black fruits, sweet herbs, chalk dust and a nice play of sweet and savory tones with hints of cedar, anise, iron and lingering cherry. The core fruit is still muted with layers of plum, black cherry, forest berry and a citrusy/peach tangy element, plus good intensity, density and fine tannins along with it’s round texture, still lifted by youthful acidity. Best to let rest in the cellar for another 3 to 5 years, but worth the wait, this is a classically proportioned Pinot Noir that has real personality, grace and vigor, drink from 2018 to 2026.
($76 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 9, 2015

2011AllemandSansSoufre2011 Thierry Allemand, Cornas “Sans Soufre” Northern Rhone, France.
The No Sulphur (added) Allemand Cornas is an interesting wine, it was great to taste such a rare and unique offering, there has been much said about low or no sulphur bottlings as of late and the whole “Natural Wine” debate, but after this beautiful Cornas, I doubt there will be any absolute resolution, nor will it have pushed the needle in either direction, though it certainly is a gorgeous and intriguing wine. The 2011 Allemand Sans Soufre, 100% Syrah, whole cluster with full stem inclusion, is a remarkable wine, it does, yes, taste different than the normal bottlings, it is more Gamay like, open knit, less austere, it hides the stemmy elements better, I would suggest it is both younger tasting and older tasting at the same time, fresh fruity upfront, and with more mature integration of all the pieces. To be honest, I don’t believe it is any better, or worse, though I would think with proper cellaring the no sulphur and regular wines would find a place where they were on par, though it would seem longer term aging would be a risk. As to the 2011 Sans Soufre, it starts with a mix of red and dark flowers with violets and spring floral tones, blackberry, light pepper notes, loamy earth, mineral and meat. Judged totally on it’s own, the Sans Soufre is lovely from start to finish, it is charming, poised and pleasing, you couldn’t ask for much more. The palate is vivid and mouth filling with boysenberry, dusty plum, blueberry and currant/cassis along with iron ore, red pepper, minty or basil like herbs, cedar and walnut oil, fig paste and black olive. The tannins are there, some acidity which shows up as juicy, but over all the feel is round, plush and stylish, much less edgy and nervy than the sulphur added wines, it is about what you expect or like on a personal level, in my opinion there seems little difference in quality or class, even though I really liked the non sulphur version very much, and would love to try it again 10 years on, I may opt for the normal bottling and save a few dollars. Allemand makes fantastic, character filled wines, all are worth every penny and while stupidly hard to get, they are treasures to search out. I would in all prudence suggest you drink the Sans Soufre from 2016 to 2021.
($169+ Est.) 94 Points, grapelive