Monthly Archives: August 2020

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 21, 2020

2019 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Trocken, Nahe Germany.
The estate bottling of dry Riesling from Donnhoff, the basic wine that is anything but basic is a fabulous wine, especially delicious in this 2019 vintage, and it is sourced from some of the wineries best sites, including, mostly from Oberhauser Felsenberg set on volcanic soils, Kieselberg on pure slate and Klamm that has weathered porphyry and slate al of which adds to the style and complexity to this Riesling. The Donnhoff Estate Trocken is beautifully crafted with stunning mineral notes and a layered textural feel on the palate, this wine is like a Raveneau Chablis, with crystalline detail and vibrant acidity showing lemony citrus, apricot flesh, quince and green apple fruit along with spicy accents, wet stones, steely tones, white flowers as well as exotic dried ginger and delicate tropical elements. This vintage is the real deal and if this wine is this good, I can only imagine how great the the Cru bottlings from Cornelius Donnhoff will be, I am glad to have ordered a few as they look to be a legendary collection. The 2019 is surprisingly deep and it is almost profound in its impact, it grabs your attention and brings a big smile, it drinks wonderfully on its own, but certainly will provide good companionship with lots of food choices from smoked salmon, cured meats, oysters and lightly spiced Asian cuisine. As the Riesling renaissance continues to grow around the world with great stuff being made from Australia, Italy, New Zealand to the Finger Lakes as well as tasty versions from the west coast, the rise in quality in California especially is awesome, it is still good to look to Alsace, Austria and Germany for the benchmark which Donnhoff gives us.

Donnhoff’s quality is well known, but it is worth noting this estate is one of the wine world’s greatest treasures and their wines are some of the best in Europe, let alone Germany and this entry level Riesling Trocken is a stunning value and a great way to be introduced to Donnhoff, an early VDP estate, and the Nahe region. Donnhoff has a variety of incredible vineyards to work with and are full of individual nuances, character and distinction with a collection of ancient soils with the mentioned volcanic porphyry rock and intense slate as well as red sandstone, limestone and some loess loam. And while the middle Nahe is a warm area and quite arid, it does get its river influence, the climate allows Donnhoff to create a vast array of wines from their exceptional dry styles, that includes their fantastic GGs, to Eiswein, as well as classic selection of Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese. The 2019 Trocken, that was fermented in a combination of stainless and large oak casks, delivers a crisp and exciting performance in the glass, it is a steal for the price, and it was a welcome relief from the news of the world, with fires devastating the California wine community, making a heartbreaking sense of loss and then there’s COVID adding fear and suffering, things are very unsettled, thankfully this Riesling transported me away for a few glorious moments. Donnhoff has made some of my favorite wines for a long time and these 2018s and 2019s take this famous winery to another level, I highly recommend stocking up! The Donnhoff lineup has something for everyone and the elegance and terroir purity of these wines is otherworldly, they never disappoint and always impress.
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 20, 2020

2018 Bedrock Wine Company, Zinfandel “Old Vine” California.
Coming from some of California’s oldest and most historic vineyard sites the Bedrock Wine Company Old Vine Zinfandel always drinks with prestigious pleasure and deliciousness, as this 2018 vintage does in joyous detail with smooth and full bodied dark fruits, spice and floral tones. Morgan Twain-Peterson, who grew up around Zinfandel as the son of Joel Peterson, one of the most famous figures in California’s wine history that founded Ravenswood and brought Zinfandel to the masses and is still a major voice for the state grape, made his first wine as a young child and has become one of America’s great wine thinkers, he recently became a Master of Wine and has made Bedrock one of California’s top producers. In 2017 Twain-Peterson passed the fabled Master of Wine examination, becoming one of just forty-five MWs residing in the United States and according to the winery, one of only two California winemakers with that incredible qualification. Bedrock Wine Co. was started in 2007 with Morgan and his partner Chris Cottrell, a close friend from Twain-Peterson’s time in New York City when he was studying America History at Columbia University and thinking of getting a PhD, after he finished college at Vasser. Twain-Peterson and Cottrell has got a great team at Bedrock with rising stars Cody Rasmussen of Desire Lines Wine Co. and Luke Nio of Filomena Wine Company in the cellar and the wines are all rock stars, especial the Heritage lineup, led by the historic Bedrock Vineyard, originally founded back in 1854 and vines that date back to 1888 in Sonoma Valley and the Evangelho Vineyard in Contra Costa County, a recent purchase by Twain-Peterson that was planted on the delta sands in 1890s.

The 2018 vintage Old Vine Zinfandel, which shows the years wonderful depth and freshness, is a blend of 85% Zinfandel sourced from vines that are at least 80 years old and as Twain-Peterson notes, filled out with some Mataro (Mourvedre), Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan, Petite Sirah, as well as tiny amounts of the many other mostly rare black grape varieties that can be found in California’s older, multifarious vineyards. Many of Bedrock’s most venerable vineyards contribute to this wine, including Bedrock, Teldeschi, Esola, Pagani, Papera, Evangelho and Pato, plus fruit coming from other old vineyards throughout the California. This tasty stuff has layers of blackberries, plum, crushed raspberry, cherry and ripe currants along with touches of cinnamon, cedar, anise, lavender and a welcome burst of natural acidity. This dark purple/garnet hued Old Vine Zinfandel is polished and luxurious, but has touches of earth and savory elements that add complexity and is very well balanced, it gets better and better as it opens up in the glass and it goes great with everything from burgers to BBQ pork, as well as Tuesday night pizza or a picnic. The wines at Bedrock Wine Company, and this one, comes from small lots of grapes that were mostly de-stemmed and extra carefully sorted for quality with fermentation(s) that employ indigenous or native yeasts and classic winemaking techniques with the wines aging mostly in used French oak barrels. 2018 is a particularly outstanding vintage for this wine and it is absolutely fabulous now, no need to wait on this one, this winery is rocking it right now, these Zins are on par with the very best the state has to offer like Turley, Ridge, and Biale to name a few, drink up!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 19, 2020

2017 Joel et Sylvie Cirotte, Sancerre “Le Chene Marchand” Loire Valley, France.
The dense Sauvignon Blanc fruit and striking mineral detail highlights the Cru terroir that influences this well made Sancerre by vignerons Joel et Sylvie Cirotte, a small domaine that continues to turn out beautiful wines that punch above their price class. I tasted through a few of the Cirotte offerings, all of which delivered a fine performance, including their Sancerre Rouge Pinot Noir and the Le Grand Chemarin Blanc, but I was most impressed by this Le Chene Marchand with its expressive nature and structure that made it stand out. The Cirotte Le Chene Marchand Sancerre, which was aged 18 months in acacia barrels, shows a rich palate of gooseberry, lemon/lime and tart peach fruits, crushed oyster shells, light herbs, wet stones and a touch of hazelnut and leesy notes with delicate white flowers and a faint smoky element. The Le Chêne Marchand is a historic site set on a limestone rich piece of land with a gentle slope of south facing vines, most over 35 years old, it shows an elegant expression in the hands of the Cirotte’s and their version goes exceptionally well with a wide range of cuisine, though some nice fresh goat cheese really brings out the full personality here.

The estate, also known as Domaine La Croix Saint-Laurent dates back to the 1800s and is situated near Bue, Cher, with the Cirotte family owning it since 1932, in the heart of the Sancerre zone and has many parcels in the area’s most prized vineyards, including this Le Chene Marchand and the winery has about 10 hectares of plots with 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Pinot Noir, with their the vines aged between 55-70 years old in most cases and which are farmed to organic standards. The vines yield small but high quality fruit that adds to the intensity and concentration in their wines, this absolutely shows in the current releases. The Sancerre(s) by Joel and Sylvie Cirotte come from the classic mostly terres blanches (calcareous clay & limestone) soils, with about 10% Silex and usually fermented in stainless steel with the Cru bottlings seeing the extended lees aging in the neutral acacia wood casks that allow texture and depth for serious impact and mouth feel without oaky flavors accenting the wine, these wines keep their freshness and transparent forms. This winery was new to me and I enjoyed each of the wines I tried and will certainly look for them when I’m thinking about Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc, and I will keep an eye out for the basic cuvee that sells for about $20, it was the one I missed.
($40 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 18, 2020

2018 Inspiration Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Branley Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.
The Branley Vineyard Pinot by Jon Phillips and winemaker Dylan Sheldon is a gem in the glass with luxurious layers of silky ripe fruit and a beautiful ruby garnet hue this is incredibly inviting stuff that highlights the sense of place and vintage exceptional well, showing black cherry, light toastiness, rose petals, sassafras and delicate spices. Located near Santa Rosa in a cooler zone, the Branley Vineyard first came into the limelight when Chris Donatiello made some tasty Chards from this site and the location and soils lends themselves to growing delicious Pinot Noir with a mix of Franciscan complex based soils with some alluvial material over weathered sandstones and ancient river bed gravels. The area sucks the cold air from the Pacific Ocean inland and gets a good dose of fog to retain fresh acidity and allow a deep set of flavors and texture, as this 2018 shows extremely well, appealing to those that enjoy the regions classics like Joseph Swan, Mary Edwards, Martinelli and Gary Farrell. The new labels at this winery are another big step up with a local tattoo artistic doing the design work, with this Inspiration Vineyards Branley Pinot label being one of the nicest in the lineup, they add a more polished look to go with the quality in the bottle.

This 2018 really excels with air and time adding a depth of flavor that is quite impressive with raspberry, plum and tangy currants joining the core cherry fruit along with cinnamon, herbal tea spices, a hint of sweet smokiness and vanilla as this Pinot unfolds in the mouth making it great with a range of foods from hard cheeses to blackened salmon. There’s a richness that is compelling, but a lively zest that provides a balance and an overall delicacy that excites the taste buds, the Branley Pinot was excellent in fact with my chicken Cesar salad wrap, as the heatwave has made it difficult to enjoy heavy foods, though I would love to have it with duck and or wild mushroom dishes, where this wine would really shine and due it more justice. This is one of the best releases from Inspiration Vineyards I’ve tried and the rise in quality and stylistic charm continues at this small label, the focus on value and food friendly offerings remains their mission, but the wines are showing more elegance, complexity and authentic transparency, especially these ‘18s. There’s a lot to admire here and it is a good way to enjoy #internationalpinotnoirday and it’s a good time to discover Inspiration Vineyards. As a long time fan of Dylan’s wines, which tend to be crafted with native yeasts and less oak presence, I am very happy with his influence on these new offerings, these small lot wines are tasty and deliver the promise of the vintage well, and don’t miss their Grenache either!
($39 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 17, 2020

2018 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes, Côtes de Provence Rosé, Cru Classe, Provence, France.
As I’ve said many times, the Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence Rosé is not only one of the most iconic Rosé wines, it is one of the world’s great wines, it is singular and distinct as any wines I’ve ever tasted showing the influence of the region, the varietal character of this ancient and rare grape (Tibouren) and the winery’s very unusual stylistic charm, it is a wine that marries the past and future to perfection. Clos Cibonne, owned by Bridget Roux and her husband, Claude Deforge, is only about 800 meters from the beautiful blue Mediterranean sea, set in a natural amphitheater that allows for wonderful ripening and with a unique constant air flow through the vines that keeps all the clusters wonderfully healthy. Like many Provence wineries, after Phylloxera, as planted mostly to Mourvedre as many historic grapes were almost forgotten, but Bridget’s grandfather André Roux, who ran the estate back from the 1930s to after WWII, was a great fan of Tibouren and believed it to be the ideal grape for the region and re-planted it on the estate, and the world is a better place for this courage and act of faith! Clos Cibonne soon became synonymous with Tibouren, which also led the A.O.C. to give special permission for the winery to list the grape on its labels. Tibouren, or Rossese di Dolceacqua as it is called in Italy, is mainly known as a red French variety that is primarily grown in Provence and in Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, but most likely originated in Greece. It is a pale red grape that deserves wider study, I hope we see more plantings in Provence as well in California, where I’m sure it could find a geeky niche!

Clos Cibonne’s Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes Côtes de Provence Rosé, a reserve style bottling that is sourced only from the estate’s oldest vines, which is completely unique wine, the Tibouren, after harvest is fermented in stainless steel and then aged Sur Lie under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast “Flor” like is found in Sherry) in 100-year-old, 500L foudres, large oak casks which adds a touch of oxidation, as well as a textured mouth feel and stabilizes the wine allow it to age way beyond what a normal Rosé. Grown on schist soils from 60 plus year old vines at 50 meters above sea level the Clos Cibonne Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes comes from a single parcel known as Le Pradet and farmed all organic. The orange/pinkish Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes was aged in cask on the lees for a full year making the palate a rich array of flavors of complex fruit, both a touch dried as well as vibrant layers with a mature poise that excites the senses. This 2018 is a thrill ride, one of the best vintages I can remember adding some savory elements, delicately earthy with a touch of pecan oil and saline too that accents the core tangy cherry, grilled Moro orange, reduced strawberry, peach flesh and seeped currant along with wet rock, herbs and rosewater. This Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes Côtes de Provence Rosé is dry, vinous and serious stuff that requires your full attention, rather than a frivolous Summer sipper, it is not only for thoughtful cuisine it is also a Rosé that can age remarkably well, even for a decade, you’ll want to plan a meal around this joyous stuff.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 16, 2020

2018 Domaine Agathe Bursin, Riesling, Zinnkoepflé Grand Cru, Vin d’Alsace, France.
This gorgeously crystalline Riesling is one of my favorites of the vintage from Alsace with Bursin really capturing the true essence of the place and year here with beautiful white flowers, tree picked apricots and wet stones leading the way on the fine medium bodied palate. With air in the glass this delicately pale Riesling adds some gripping acidity and mineral tones as well as hints of tropical fruit, zesty tangerine and some minty herb or tea notes. I have been following and a fan of this young vigneron for a few years now and I am really impressed with her wines, these Agathe Bursin offerings are a savvy collection of varietal bottlings with her Rieslings being exceptional stand outs like this beautiful Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé with its lithe and delicate nature hiding the depth and concentration somewhat at this stage making it even more compelling for a youthful expression. These wines are unique and terroir driven with Agathe’s cellars located in the commune of Westhalten, about fifteen kilometers to the south of Colmar, one of Alsace’s most historic towns, with three famous hills of calcareous soils, Zinnkoepflé, Strangenberg and Bollenberg, that form a crown around the village and where you find the best vineyard parcels. These ancient limestone soils, along with fossilized anemones and oyster shells as well as its special micro climate, which is almost as sunny and dry as the Mediterranean regions, because of rain shelter of the Vosges mountain range, creates one of Alsace’s most intriguing places, which includes this Zinnkoepflé Grand Cru site.

While expertly doing fabulous Riesling, Bursin is also very gifted with Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Pinot Noir, which she has a cult following for and like Deiss, she has become curious about doing field blends and inter plantings of varietals, for which I think is most like the future for Alsace. Bursin, a one woman show does only about 3,000 cases and the Grand Cru stuff, as with this wine is very limited and highly desirable. The 2018 Zinnkoepflé Grand Cru is in league with some of the region’s elite wineries including one of my all time favorites Domaine Weinbach as well as Zindt Hambrecht and Trimbach and reminds me of the re-emerging Albert Mann as well, this is excellent dry Riesling! Agathe works with a special self developed holistic approach in the vineyards with biodynamic practices and only hand tending from bud break to harvest, including her own herbal tea remedies, all of which promotes healthy energy within vines and soils in this arid and dry part of Alsace. In the cellar, Bursin is pretty traditional, but again is laser focused on purity and aromatics in her wines and almost no manipulations during her winemaking process preferring her cuvees, other than the Grand Cru’s, like this one, which see limited time in barrel, are fermented in stainless steel. So with the used oak this Zinnkoepflé Riesling is richer and rounder than her basic version, but still with purity of form and vibrancy. There’s loads of character and quality in this 2018 Zinnkoepflé Riesling that seems ever changing in the glass, in that same intriguing way a great Burgundy does, it is deliciously seductive and a wine to search out.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 15, 2020

2019 Weingut Korrell, Riesling Trocken, Nahe Germany.
The 2019 Nahe Riesling wines look to be legendary and this Korrell basic trocken is absolutely glorious and pure liquid summer in the bottle with spot on terroir and varietal character shinning through showing lime, green apple, white peach fruits along with hints of crystalized ginger, clove and chamomile as well as fantastic fresh mineral and wet stone. Korrell is a winery that should be on your Riesling radar, I’ve been following them since trying this wine from the 2016 vintage and each wine that followed got better and better. As I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, Martin Korrell, the sixth generation of the Korrell family, is the talent behind this ambitious and innovative estate, he has a wonderful palate of diverse soils to work with here, not far from the likes of Donnhoff, Schlossgut Diel, Hexamer, Gut Hermannsberg, Kruger-Rumpf and Schäfer-Fröhlich. There is an array of soils and distinct parcels found at Korrell, with some volcanic influences, slate, quartz and gravel around the estate, plus Korrell has their prized single vineyard monopole Paradies cru vineyard which is set on mineral intense clay and fossilized limestone, that gives Korrell’s flagship Riesling a fantastic textural richness and depth that reminds me of some of the great Pfalz GG’s. While just a simple Riesling by label, on the palate it is nothing short of delicious with a impressive medium bodied sensation and stainless steel raised clarity, it compares well with much more expressive wines, on par with some classic names in the German elite. This wine has excited me to try the later releases of the single cru offerings from this region, they look likely to be something special.

This 2019 Trocken is generous, flirty and full of flavor, it goes a long way to checking off all the boxes in a great wine with zesty acidity, floral detail and a touch of leesy richness gaining depth as it warms slightly in the glass where it glistens with a lovely golden/yellow hue. This vintage is so good, you have to check the label to make sure you didn’t actually open the GG or Cru bottling, you’ll want to stock up on it, such is the sense of completeness and the insane value you get. I certainly, as I have said since my first taste of Korrell, recommend getting some of their (dry) Trocken Riesling, plus the awesome GGs (Grosses Gewachs – Grand Cru) like the Paradies and the very unique bottling called the Von Den Grossen Lagen, sourced from exceptional VPD Grand Cru sites, blended from serious names you’d know. I just also received Donnhoff’s estate Trocken from this 2019 and I am really looking forward to that too, this region is killing it right now and the winegrowers here are raising the bar with almost every new year bringing a wealth of fabulous choices. Martin and Britta’s Korrell Johanneshof Estate in Bad Kreuznach, which was founded by Martin’s ancestors that interesting enough came originally from Spain and settled here to farm in the Nahe River family, is farmed in sustainable methods to preserve the quality of the place for future generations. This Trocken that opens up with orange blossoms and stays racy fresh made for a great sipper with this California heatwave, adding a nice crisp saline note and great with a light selection of foods, but will be fantastic with a touch of spice and Asian cuisine.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 14, 2020

2018 Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The Famille Geoffray’s famous old school Chateau Thivin is one of my favorite go to reds, its pure Gamay flavors and terroir driven structure make it a pleasurable, but serious wine and it is always a great value, especially in vintages like this 2018 which shows beautiful floral notes, texture and silky layers of dark fruits. Claude Geffray, now in charge, along with his son Claude-Edouard, at his family’s estate which was founded back in 1877 making it the oldest winery on Mont Brouilly, it continues to be a star of tradition in the region making honest wines that show Gamay in its most raw and pure form. Kermit Lynch, Thivin’s importer, discovered these wines and brought them to America, where almost no one had even heard of Gamay and mostly wanted Cabernet Sauvignon and made this and many other Cru Beaujolais very unlikely success stories, now Chateau Thivin has a special place in our wine drinking hearts and we relish the chance to pop corks on wines like this, which in some years rival Burgundies! Thivin’s Côte de Brouilly parcels are predominantly south-facing and are planted entirely with Gamay vines that average 50 years of age. The vineyards are surprisingly steep here, according to Kermit Lynch, the Geoffray’s work their parcels with organic methods, the soil is plowed and composted regularly while cover crops are left between some rows to encourage micro-biotic activity and absolutely no insecticides or pesticides are used. All this hand tending is done, as Lynch notes on a slope with a grade of 48% and a slippery crumbly surface of Cote de Brouilly’s unique blue volcanic rock comprised of plagioclase and biotite along with the classic granite.

The brilliantly dark garnet and ruby 2018 Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly is beautifully detailed with pretty violets, juicy plum, black cherry, strawberry and fresh vine picked wild berry fruits along with a delicate earthiness, mineral tones and an array of spice, herb and walnut in a supple medium bodied wine that highlights the vintage’s best qualities and charms. The winegrowing and winemaking is classic and natural at Chateau Thivin with all of the main plots being done in small separate vinifications with each lots getting special focus and hand crafted attention with 100% whole-cluster fermentation and gentle gravity flow of the must and wine throughout the process to showcase delicacy and individual nuances in the finished bottlings. The Geoffray’s use temperature controlled stainless cuves for primary fermentations, which last about two weeks and are semi to full carbonic and the wine is raised in large old oak foudres for just about six months to mature, but put into bottle with loads of vibrancy and youthful grip. This Cote de Brouilly is always a bit more muscular in style, more like Morgon’s Cote de Py in character, though still elegant and smooth in the mouth, it is that combination that makes this Thivin stand out and allows it to age beautifully with an exciting and lengthy window of fabulous drinking and it is always sublime with rustic cuisine, elevating even the simplest of meals. Thivin also does one of the most delectable Rosés in the region, and though very hard to get, Kermit Lynch usually has some and it is well worth searching out, plus their Bouilly Cru, which comes from plots on pink granite like Fleurie, is also lovely stuff, keep an eye for this producer, well known for being a savvy choice by Beaujolais junkies!
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 13, 2020

2015 Elyse Winery, Zinfandel, Korte Ranch Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley.
The Elyse Winery has been one of my favorites for Zin and Cab for almost 25 years and I still remember an early morning visit there, when the original owners Nancy and Ray Coursen politely took me in at their Hoffman Lane home and winery well before a normal opening hour, because I was driving home to Monterey, then proceeded to open close to 15 bottles and pouring exceptionally large pours! Elyse goes back to the 1980s when Ray Coursen started the winery/brand in 1987 with a tiny lot of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard, a wine I always was especially fond of and still am, that vineyard has made some fantastic wines over the years from Whitehall Lane Reserve (where Ray got is first head winemaker job) to Karl Lawrence, a cult label that was remarkably affordable. So with all this on my mind, I found this 2015 Korte Ranch Zinfandel from St. Helena, another bottling I have enjoyed over the years following this winery and this recent release didn’t disappoint with all the flavors and character I remembered with layers of black raspberry, dark plum, kirsch, guava flesh, floral notes along with hints of spices, like cinnamon and delicate vanilla leading the way on the medium/full palate that presents itself with the vintage’s warm/ripe round textures. The new team at Elyse, owner Josh Peeples and one of Napa’s hottest winemakers Russell Bevan, who’s own label is one of the most prized and sought after in California, have taken Elyse to new levels of quality while retaining the winery’s personality.

The Korte Ranch is a pre-prohibition vineyard set on valley floor rocky loams sitting between Turley’s estate, Dockhorn, Hourglass and Ehlers in the St. Helena zone in the northern part of the Napa with vines over 70 years old. This spot gets the valley’s warm and cool night time temperatures that refresh’s the vines and allows for ripe dark flavors and good balance with this vintage coming in at 14.6% in a warm year, somewhat less than some higher profile versions of Zinfandel, even though that is very lush and full flavored in the glass. The winemaking is pretty luxurious at Elyse with plenty of French oak and hand crafted techniques employed here with exceptional attention to detail and careful sorting and picking of the grapes. The winery notes that each block from their vineyards require a specific picking time in the field and a different treatment of barrels in the cellar. This includes special selections from bold heavy-toast Darnajou barrels to aromatic medium-toast Taransaud barrels, we select a deliberate combination to maximize each vineyard’s expression in bottle, and while present in this wine, the oak is not aggressive here giving a few markers like a soft feel, sweet toast and a touch of mocha. Peeples has really put Elyse a stellar team together here, with the mentioned Bevan, along with Ben Parodi, who worked for Venge and Reed Skupny, who spend time at one of my favorite Loire producers, Bernard Baudry, all accomplished and talented people that are putting out some tasty wines, like this impressive dark garnet hued Korte Ranch Zinfandel.
($45 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 12, 2020

2019 Big Basin Vineyards, Rosé, Central Coast, California.
Bradley Brown’s Big Basin Vineyards based in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains is known mostly for their critically acclaimed estate Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, an iconic and profound wine, as well as a hand crafted collection of Rhone style bottlings, but in recent years their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines have really impressed and gained traction, especially Brown’s whole cluster driven Alfaro Family Vineyard and his elegant and Burgundy like Coastview Chardonnay. That all said, I am really into the Big Basin Vineyards dry Rosé, which is blend of Rhone grapes, with this vintage including 47% Grenache Noir, 32% Carignane, 13% Syrah and 8% Mourvedre sourced from vineyards in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara (Gilroy area) and Santa Cruz Mountains, hence the California designation on the label. The 2019 is vivid and beautifully pale in color, but full of flavor and striking for its flinty and stony quality, almost mineral smoky with racy fruits and snappy spices with delicate florals as well, making it very refreshing and serious stuff that expands with air to reveal grapefruit zest, tangerine, sour cherry, stone fruit or melon flesh, strawberry and rosewater, adding crushed rock, saline and wild herbs. This wine is fast becoming a favorite and has entered the must have for Summer zone along with some of the state’s best pinks done in the classic Cotes de Provence mode, its clean and bright, but a wine of substance to relish over a meal.

The Big Basin Rosé is Grenache dominant and shows it with a openly round and generous palate that unfolds purposely and slowly in the mouth, eventually evolving into a very full and complex pink wine, similar to stylish Provence offerings and great with seasonal cuisine and sea food, especially steamed mussels and or BBQed oysters. The Grenache, which makes up most of the final blend and as Brown notes, was picked specifically for this purpose, to make a Rosé, so was picked earlier with lower sugars and vibrant natural citrusy acidity and whole cluster pressed along with the old vine Carignan from Wirz Vineyard then cold fermented like a while white with the Syrah and Mourvedre being blended in later for color, depth and structure. Interestingly, the indigenous fermentation for this wine, as Bradly adds, was very long and slow and only completed a couple of weeks prior to bottling, which shows in the slight cloudy haze and sediment in the finished, unfined and unfiltered wine. The prior releases have just got better and better with age, when the lees give texture and depth, contrary to how most people think, this 2019 has another year or more to develop, just like the 2018 which is drinking fabulous right now. So need to rush it, though I would get it now, while its available, plus for those that like the gripping intensity of youth will want to drink it sooner v. later. I, myself will get a few more bottles, mostly to enjoy in the short term, but I may try to have restraint and put a bottle or two away for another 6 months to see what rewards come.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive