2009 HdV, Chardonnay “Hyde Vineyard” Carneros, Napa Valley. (Hyde & de Villaine)
I’ve been lucky to have sampled the first to the latest from Hyde and de Villaine, and while all the wines have ben interesting and well crafted over the years, it is their Chardonnay that has always stood out and it still does. The Hyde Vineyards and Aubert de Villaine, the managing director of the fabled Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Wine project seemed an odd arrangement at first but it turns out, de Villaine’s American wife Pamela is cousins with the Hyde’s and it is a worldly family affair and what looks like a very successful one with some great wines being made by their winemaker Stéphane Vivier, a Burgundy native that has experience with vines in Pommard and Chassagne as well as New Zealand and the Sonoma Coast. This group had some talent to say the least and the 2009 HdV Chardonnay shows it well with wonderful depth and texture along with elegance and artisan charms. The nose has white flowers, mineral tones and apples leading to a lemon kissed palate with pear, fig, apple and tropical essences with a creamy smooth body that while rich is still not wanting for acidity or life. There is subtle oak shadings and brioche adding warmth and the fruit lingers well on after the last sip of this fine Chardonnay.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Rouge, France (Red Burgundy-Pinot Noir)
Based in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Nicolas Potel crafts many fine Burgundy wines and while this 2010 Bourgogne is not among the domaines best, it is a remarkable value and gives a light and elegant wine that has lots to be happy about in this price class. “Nicky” Potel’s simple red Burgundy offers bright cherry, floral essence, plum and mineral notes, but look for this wine to fill out a bit more over the next year, but it was meant to be enjoyed young and fresh so don’t store it away in hopes of it becoming a future masterpiece, just pop the cork on this delightful little Pinot Noir when you want a nice soft red. There is some good stuff going on here and while not really complex or deep it has plenty charm and grace.
($16 Est.) 89-90 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($12.95)
2011 Cochon, Grenache Blanc “Clements Hills” California.
This lovely and plump Sierra Foothills white is an interesting and fun Rhone style wine that is Grenache Blanc with a touch of Roussanne and Viognier added. The wine starts with fresh citrus and apple butter and opens to mineral laced stone fruit and fills out with hints of butterscotch, cream and tangerine zest. The acidity keeps things lively, and the rich texture gives lots of pleasure and feel without being to heavy. There are subtle spice and flower notes that filter in and out while in the glass and there is plenty of interest to keep your attention, enjoy now.
($16 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2009 Antoine Jobard, Meursault “En La Barre” White Burgundy, France.
While the 2008 and 2010 vintages were better, especially for whites in Burgundy, the Jobard Meursaults are suburb wines and worthy of attention, with this 2009 Meursault En La Barre really showing lots of class and pure flavors. Antoine Jobard’s wines are done in a more serious and learner style than most Meursault with a more Puligny like intensity and firm acidity, though the edge has been taken off this 2009 and it shows the riper year and more round developed characteristics making it a drink young style white Burgundy without giving up the depth and focus. The nose has a classic matchstick, hazelnut note with white flowers, lime and marmalade leading to a palate of lemon, river soaked stones, pear and hints of peach with brioche and vanilla oak shadings present in the background. With air you get a slight reduction and some clove and fig mingle on the finish which is slightly salty and has lingering lemon curd and nuttiness. I would certainly chase down the 2008’s, and keep an eye out for the upcoming 2010’s, but this is the one to drink now.
($72 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
Imported by Kermit Lynch
avail at www.sfwtc.com
2009 Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-St.-Georges “Vieilles Vignes” Red Burgundy, France.
The Chevillon 2009’s are really starting to come alive with flavor and texture after a slow start, not surprising as Nuits-St.-Georges usually take a it of time to show their best, but the 2009 Nuits-St.-Georges Old Vines is really turned charming and very interesting, making for a lovely Burgundy with style and class at a fair price. Though the Vieilles Vignes will certainly get more complex over time, I like it for a young terroir wine and would enjoy it anytime with it’s density and earthy character that highlight the place and vintage perfectly. The 2009 Chevillon Nuits-St.-George Vieilles Vignes starts with wilted roses, truffle, forrest floor, spices and tea notes on the nose with a red fruit core leading to a palate of earthy, but ripe raspberry, black cherry and briar fruits with plum and mineral. There is a peppery note and the lingering impression is of a savory and saline focus with a touch of wild strawberry and cranberry fruit. There is a lot going on and lots to love about this Burgundy, and the texture is starting to smooth out and you can see it improving further over the next few years and drink nicely for at least 5-7 years on. Tasted on 3 occasions, latest was 12-15-12.
($65 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com (Imported by Kermit Lynch)
2010 Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine, Beaune Montrevenots Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
Christine Dubreuil of Pernand-Vergelesses crafts some beautiful wines and all are made in silky elegant style, especially her wonderful 2010 Beaune Montrevenots Premier Cru Red Burgundy that is really starting to come into it’s own after a tight period after release. This wine comes from 30 year old vines and was raised in only about 15% new oak and rested 15 months in barrel all of which has left the fruit shinning through and preserved the freshness in this subtle and classy Pinot Noir. The nose brings red fruits, flowers and spice together nicely and the satin smooth palate is medium weighted and full of life with bright raspberry, black cherries and tart plum while hints of minerallity, truffle and loamy earth add complexity to this very fine Beaune. This wine has really become such a gem, after being a bit stubborn and out of shape in the first few months after the US release, and I highly recommend looking for this and all of the Dubreuil-Fontaine whites and reds from this vintage.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Montalbera, Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG “Laccento” Piedmonte, Italy.
The rare and beautiful Ruche grape produces one of the most perfumed red wines in the world, and the Montalbera is especially aromatic with layers of flowers and incense leading to a medium bodied palate of cherry, strawberry and bitter dark chocolate with hints of anise, pepper and candied fruits. The nose is like bathing in rose oil while rose petals shower you like the poster from American Beauty while a touch of mineral and truffle play in the background. This sexy wine shines in this vintage with heightened acidity that gives focus and detail to this joyous red that is one of Piedmonte’s rarest wines. Montalbera continues to make one of the finest examples of Ruche and this is the third vintage in a row to impress me with it’s delights and quality.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($19.95)
2011 Nostre Pais by Michel Gassier, Costieres de Nimes Blanc, Rhone Style White, France.
This Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier cuvee is a fantastic and mineral laced wine that way over delivers in terms of quality and pleasure. Gassier’s lineup is one of the best out there for true terroir and hedonism with loads of richness and character in each of his wines, especially good is this 2011 Nostrepais Blanc from Costieres de Nimes, which is a historic town famous for it’s Roman theater and Rhone style wines from rocky vineyards with old vines. The 2011 is a bit fresher and slight bit more alive than the last two vintages and it still has plenty of depth and mouth filling fruit that includes apricot, apple, tangerine and passionfruit. The wet stones and steely minerals are a joy in this racy and seductive white, and the wine opens to a lush texture with air that is rewarding and in no way flabby or dull. The finish is saline crisp leaving you wanting more and the stone fruit and citrus linger with hints of smoke and spice.
($20 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2011 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling “Lenchen Rosengarten” Erstes Gewachs, Rheingau, Germany.
Andreas Spritzer’s wines are really beautifully crafted wines and his whole lineup is a wonderful collection of delightful Rieslings, but for something above of normal and exotic you should look for his trocken Erstes Gewachs (Premier Cru Dry) Lenchen Rosengarten Riesling. The 2011 is a stunning example of intense dry style Rheingau with loads of character, terroir and sublime texture and balance showing lime flower and citrus pulp with mango, orange and yellow peach fruits, white tea spices, steely mineral notes, slate influenced smoky flinty rockiness, grapefruit tanginess and mouthwatering saline elements. Look for this wine to really age and develop unique complexities over the next decade, best to put a few bottles away, and still drink a few young as this wine is hard to resist now. I think this might be my favorite Spreitzer to date, but his Spatlese(s) are also super and lovely drinking wines, be sure to check out these wines if you see them, especially the 2009 and 2011 vintages, and if you see 2010, remember to give plenty of cellar time, they need it.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Weingut Leitz, Riesling “Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels” Terrassen, Rheingau, Germany.
I waiting almost 6 months to post this review, but finally I’m ready to complete my thoughts on this amazing Riesling, which has to rank in my top 5 wines of the year period, and it looks like Riesling from this vintage in Germany may fill 4 of my top 10 wines! The Leitz Kaisersteinfels is a pure terroir wine, coming from unique slate soils and exposure it is strikingly different from the rest of the Rudesheimer Berg wines, like Roseneck, and this weighty mostly dry white has impressive clarity and depth already, but should age effortlessly for two or more decades only getting more interesting as it does so. Johannes Leitz is a well known name to Riesling fans and is one of the most personable of people, making some of the greatest Rhein Rieslings of his generation and offering a great range of value priced wines as well. The 2011 Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels Terrassen opens with lime blossom, sliced peaches, pineapple and mango with loads of chalky mineral notes, flinty rocks and mouthwatering saline savory elements with bright acidity and a hint of brine. The weight gives an impression of sweetness, but this wine never feels cloying on heavy and there is so much going on you almost instantly want to refill your glass and guard it with your life. There are more layers coming at you with apricot, apple and white peach and lemon/lime notes as the wine opens and the tension is full of Riesling energy and vigor. This wine has it all, power, refinement and length making it a classic, and a true Rheingau treasure, luck those that put a case away of this, as the rewards will be grand indeed.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive