Monthly Archives: May 2015

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 21, 2015

2012GiovanniRossoNebbiolo2012 Giovanni Rosso, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
Here is a serious and charming Nebbiolo from Davide Rosso, who is making a big name for himself in recent vintages, this a label to buy now and keep an eye on, the  latest set are some of his most compelling offerings, especially good is this Langhe Nebbiolo, which is on par with many a costlier Barolo! I tried some of his earlier 2008 wines and loved them immediately for their quality, character and finesse, this guy is making some beauties! There is more joy in this Nebbiolo that one would hope for in a wine in this price class, in fact as mentioned, you could easily be fooled into thinking you were drinking a Barolo, maybe not a top Cru, but you get the idea, this is great stuff. The nose of Davide’s Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo starts with dried roses, hints of incense, tar, kirsch and menthol leading to a complex palate of black cherry, damson plum, balsamico dipped strawberry and dried red currant along with iron tinged mineral, salted black licorice, cedar and olive/herb notes. The weight is medium bodied, with 14% alcohol, good fine tannins and well judged acidity and focus, this shows youthful grip, but is alluring and hard to resist, drink from 2015 to 2021, impressive, classy and pure all the way.
($27 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 20, 2015

2009Levet2009 Bernard Levet, Cote-Rotie, Les Journaries, Northern Rhone, France.
I was first introduced to the Levet wines with the 2005 vintages, and I was instantly smitten with them, the following three vintages even proved better still, and now the 2009 is out and it is hard to not absolutely love it, the Les Journaries is a wonderful Syrah from one of Cote-Rotie(s) best sites, the La Landonne Lieu-Dit in Ampuis. Neal Rosenthal, importer, while giving a seminar on his personal favorite wines, styles and terroirs picked this wine out in particular to show his preference for true authentic wines, and without question you can taste and feel that in this lovely and slightly funky wine. My written tasting note, starts with “Absolutely gorgeous Cote-Rotie” though very much what I felt in the moment I must also note that is not the polished, smoky sweet style that you see mostly these days, this is old world stuff that may even remind you of Hermitage or Cornas with loads of character, earthy/gamey elements and some solid/robust tannins. The Levet Cote-Rotie Les Journaries was fermented in epoxy lined vats, it see almost all stems included and is raised in mixed size wood for three years, the malo takes up to a year in big cask, then the wine is transferred to demi-muids, though some gets into small barrels, only about 10-15% of any oak is new, there is a light fining, but it is not filtered. The result is impressive and deeply flavorful, especially this warm vintage 2009 which really lends itself to Levet’s style and allows early drinking pleasure on a wine that ages sublimely and usually requires some patience. The 2009 Les Journaries starts with a heady mix of dried wild flowers, violets, cigar wrapped, white pepper, bacon fat and fig paste along with black fruits, the palate is full and dense with blackberry, boysenberry, damson plum, blueberry and dried currant fruits as well as graphite, truffle/loamy notes, fresh tilled soil, flinty/iron and lavender oil with a touch of cedar, anise and mixed spice. You can feel the stems, but they add charm and grip, this is not a shy wine, but there is a classic not perfect grace that shines through and it keeps you totally involved and intrigued throughout, this is pleasing and entertaining stuff, drink from 2016 to 2027.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 19, 2015

2013CalozBernunes2013 Cave Anne-Carole et Conrad Caloz, Cornalin, du Lieu-Dit Les Bernunes, A.O.C. Valais, Switzerland.
The 2013 Cave Caloz Cornalin du Lieu-Dit Les Bernunes is a stunning wine with beautiful color, perfume, soft tannins, elegant acidity and wonderfully layered flavors that are stylish and complex, Caloz is fast becoming one of my favorite wineries. As an extra bonus, I was able to sit down with famed importer Neal Rosenthal and discuss many new and old topics, relating to his passions for authentic and honest wines, to his understanding of terroir and of his personal joy in the human traditions, old cellars and difficult vintages. Sometimes you feel an East Coast v West Coast tinge to these types of conversations, as places like New York feel like they own expertise on old world wines, but Neal was full of praise of Kermit Lynch our West Coast old world importer and in fact Rosenthal had wonderful things to say about certain California wines, though of course he was and still is all about ancient cobweb filled, moldy cellars in Europe, in fact he claim part of his view of terroir is a cellars influence on the wine. I am really glad I had the opportunity to meet Rosenthal and take in all his ideas, but I was especially grateful to taste this new Cave Caloz Cornalin, which he imports, from steep vines in Valais Switzerland where the family Caloz, Anne-Carole, Conrad (King of the Mountain) and Sandrine farm a small estate and make some of the greatest Swiss wine. Cornalin is a native varietal, almost exclusive to Valais, it makes for a gorgeous wine in Caloz hands, the 2013 is a vibrant and elegant example with detailed floral tones with hints of violets, dried roses and spring flowers, a ruby hue in the glass, mineral tones, spicy notes and a medium weighted body with expressive dark fruits, black currant, plum, red peach, tangy cherry, blueberry, cranberry and fittingly mountain berry along with a hint of red pepper, minty herbs, saline and a stony/gravel element. At 13% this is a balanced and vibrant wine that is plenty rich and interesting, it is unfiltered and is as pure as the alpine air. Caloz is the real deal, this is a graceful and alluring wine, and you should look for it, even with a horrible exchange rate with the Swiss Franc, these are intriguing and noble efforts. Drink the Cornalin over the next 3 to 5 years, it is super impressive, they also grow some Cabernet Franc, Syrah and a Pinot hybrid as well as make a dry white wine, plus a barrique aged Cornalin, all of which merit attention. That all said, the Les Bernunes version is delightful, playful and extremely joyous in the glass, drinking somewhere between a fine Burgundy and St. Joseph, with a style that reminds me of Jean Foillard’s Morgon, drink this excellent Swiss red between 2015 and 2023.
($52 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 18, 2015

2012JobardBlanc2012 Antoine Jobard, Bourgogne Blanc, White Burgundy, France.
The deep and concentrated 2012 Bourgogne Blanc, the basic white, is rather much more than you’d expect, a small crop of grapes loaded with flavor all coming from 20 year old vines in Meursault, yes by any other name, this is Meursault from one of the regions most respected Domaines. The 2012 Bourgogne Blanc is energy filled, bursting with intensity as you’d expect from this label, these wines are always laser like sharp and precise with gripping acidity and with forceful mineral tones, truly terroir driven, you can taste the dusty limestone and river rocks. This version is bold and dense with white flowers, lime and lemon citrus, brine, wet stones, steely/liquid mineral, clove, a hint of wood and some green apple plus tangy peach pit. This is racy stuff, classic and with loads of character, charm and vibrancy, it was crafted by Jobard in artisan fashion in mostly used oak, but with up to 20% new, it was fermented in wood, though you’d never guess that and it saw lees aging, and was bottled unfined. This is serious Chardonnay and while insiders and Kermit Lynch fans have been trying to keep this all to themselves, this is one of the best secret values in white Burgundy, I highly recommend searching this out and stocking up, this vintage is stunning and is a step up from the last 2 or 3 vintages, which were exceptional wines as well! Drink this wine anytime for pure Burgundy class and pleasure, but it should be a superb wine to lose in the cellar for a few years too, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($40 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 17, 2015

2010Muga2010 Bodegas Muga, Rioja DO, Reserva Selección Especial, Spain.
I love the 2010 Muga(s) especially this Seleccion Especial Rioja Reserva, they are dynamic, fresh and vital reds with loads of personality and charm, I think at this price point, these are a great alternative to Bordeaux or new world Cab. The Muga is a polished, poised and full bodied effort with superb focus and balance, even though it does still show off it’s sweet wood notes, though in time it should get massively better, this looks set to have an extremely long drinking window, it should be a savvy cellar choice, there is a lot of quality here for the money and it certainly is a wonderfully attractive Rioja, maybe close to Remelluri in that sense, both offer fantastic value. The 2010 Muga Reserva Seleccion Especial starts with a deep color in the glass and a dark fruit and toasty wood note on the nose with a bouquet of dried flowers, vanilla, cassis and creamy kirsch leading to a sweet tannin filled palate of blackberry, plum and cherry fruits with pipe tobacco, graphite, mineral tones, a hint of loamy earth, cedar and walnut, bitter coco and anise. Everything folds together nicely and there is a nice lift of acidity, and with air the texture fills the mouth in smooth fashion, this has some youth and vigor making it very good with food at this stage, though over time it will get even richer, denser and more complex. Mostly Tempranillo here, and it tastes of it, very pure and lengthy, this is true Rioja and a great Muga, drink over the next 10 to 15 years.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 16, 2015

2011Badenhorst2011 Badenhorst, Family Red, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines Proprietary Red 2011 is a revelation, this stunning cuvee is on par with many fine Chateauneuf-du-Pape at twice the price, this effort deserves lots of merit and is just another sign of just how far South Africa has come in recent years, especially with unique Rhone style wines. This Badenhorst and the Sadie Family wines just blew me away, no question this is a complete revolution and a dramatic new era in which young winemakers are thriving in, South Africa is certainly a special wine growing region and as they find their niche and perfect the vineyards you are going to see even better wines emerge, this is exciting times near the Cape. The 2011 Badenhorst red is made up of Shiraz (Syrah), Cinsault, Tinta Barocca (a lesser known Portuguese red grape), Grenache and Mourvedre and it is deep, spicy and full of gorgeous layers of fruit, mineral, earth and savory elements that build impressively on the rich palate, ripe tannin and juicy acidity hold things together and the balance, cut and focus are near perfect. The bouquet starts with a light floral perfume along with an array of red spices, bacon and dark berries which leads to deep and vigorous wine that shows a opaque garnet hue in the glass with boysenberry, blueberry, wild plum, morello cherry and tangy currant fruits with cracked pepper, smoked boar, sweet framboise, cinnamon, dusty stones, licorice and cedar notes. This is a serious offering from Badenhorst and there is real depth, style and charm here, it flows with intriguing character from start to finish, it seems to be in no need of anything and can be enjoyed now, though I’m sure it will be just as good if not a touch better in 3 to 5 years time, though it is hard to imagine too many cellaring this sexy red for too long, drink from 2015 to 2021.
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 15, 2015

2013Dragonstone2013 Weingut Leitz, Riesling, Dragonstone, Rheingau, Germany.
The Rudesheimer Drachenstein is full of quartzite with some slate, clay and loose soils, it is unique site and it gives the Leitz Dragonstone is flavor, it is a rich and pure Riesling showing upfront fruity character along with perky vibrancy. The vintage 2013 version is a touch lighter than either the 2011 or 2012, but doesn’t suffer for it, and is drinking wonderfully at present with a focus of crystalline mineral, yellow peach and soft tropical notes to go with bright and zesty citrus, lemongrass and honeycomb. The palate feels lush and weighty with about Kabinett levels of sweetness or a touch more, but you don’t taste a cloying sensation or are hit with sugar, more in texture which turns a touch creamy, without losing any vigor making the new Dragonstone by Johannes Leitz a pleasing wine and a very flexible one, it should be a great companion to all sorts of cuisine and makes for a relaxing sipper as well, especially on the warm evenings of late Spring and Summer. There is a hint of flinty spice, green apple and lemon/lime that go well with the chalky salty stone and brine notes in the background, this wine gets more appealing in the glass, lingering with candied dried pineapple, and it has plenty of charm and class, it proves again you do not always need a Trocken or bone dry wine to be very happy, I’ve always been been a fan of this wine and it is without question a super value for the quality, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 14, 2015

2013PiedrasassiPS2013 Piedrasassi, Syrah, PS, Central Coast.
One of California’s best kept secrets, the Sashi Moorman PS Syrah is a lovely and groovy wine with nervy whole cluster/stemmy character and beautiful opaque blue/purple/black hues in the glass. The 2013 is an opulent and riveting version that really reminds me of Auguste Clape’s baby Cornas, the Le Vin des Amis, this is thrilling stuff, especially for the price, and while never easy to find, at 480 cases made it should not be impossible to source some, oh and yeah, you really, really should get as much as you can, in case you didn’t catch my drift! Sasha makes the Stolpman wines, and consults for Raj Parr’s Sandhi and is the director of winemaking at Evening Land/Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon, he certainly is in the top echelon of modern winemakers, his style is not shy, but the wines are always balanced, poised and show a purity of fruit. The 2013 PS shows a deft touch, managing the stem inclusion to perfection and allowing the inner beauty of the grapes to shine, there’s pretty floral tones, spice, mineral, earthiness and deep dark layers of fruit starting with a heady mix of violets, pepper, burnt embers, creme de cassis and dried celery along with blueberry, boysenberry and damson plum fruit that forms of core around which the rest adds background complexity. There is hints of lavender, anise, chalky stones, espresso, a touch of cedar and black olives that come through as well and the finish is good and has nice length, this is stylish stuff with enough edge to keep things interesting, the balance and focus are ever present with mild ripe tannins and a subtle energy from the acidity and at 14.1% this is a medium to full bodied red that impresses and pleases, drink from 2015 to 2021, look for bit more aromatic enhancement and depth to come through with another 6 months to a year in bottle, but it is hard to resist now!
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 13, 2015

2014AmeztoiRose2014 Ameztoi, Rose, Getariako Txakolina, Rubentis, Spain.
The latest Ameztoi is bursting with energy and has a sexy array of vibrant flavors, it is always a fun and entertaining pink, excitingly zesty, dry and almost with a spritz, don’t miss this Basque rarity, especially this new 2014 version. At first this eye-popping Rose puckers you with impressive tang, but as you adjust to it’s vivid crisp intensity you feel refreshed and alive and the wine’s lovable charm and character win you over completely, this is one of the all time great summer wines, it is alive, vivacious and wonderfully quaffable. The nose is full of mineral, citrus and wet stones with a hint of strawberry, loam and floral/spice leading to that extremely light and sizzling palate of watermelon, sour cherry, red peach, grapefruit, rosewater and wild herbs along with a touch of salt lick, wet stones and lingering grenadine. Pulling this beautiful Rose out of an ice bucket at a backyard BBQ is pure heaven, this is great and easy pink wine, super dry and delicate, it brings lots of smiles and laughter, what’s not to love. Ameztoi makes a fine set of Txakolina, and their white is also one to look for, the 2014 is a bit fruity with a Riesling meets Muscadet melding to it, but still feels dry and zingy, but it’s their lovely pink that really steals the show, drink now and as long as you can find it!
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 12, 2015

2011FelsinaRancia2011 Felsina, Rancia, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany, Italy.
The Felsina lineup of Chianti Classico is a gorgeous group and 2010, 2011 and 2013 look wonderful and interesting from the basic Classic to the Gran Selezione Colonia, but I must say the Rancia is just stunning, it is a flowing sexy wine that is opulent, hedonistic and gracefully balanced. Even from this ripe and warm vintage, the Felsina delivers poise, class and focus, it is well crafted and is a total package of precise form and detail, it is hard not to love this stunning example of pure Sangiovese from the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune of Chianti Classico. The Felsina 2011 Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva starts with a bouquet of floral perfume, smoke, a mix of sweet and savory spices and roasted herbs, mint and red fruits leading to a layered palate of mulberry, black cherry, raspberry, plum and dark currant fruits with a complex array of supporting elements that include polished walnut, cedar, a hint of chalk dust, mineral, vanilla, cigar wrapper/sweet tobacco leaf, anise and mission fig notes. The sweet ripe tannins of vintage make this a pleasure filled experience, though there is live and vibrancy with subtle acidity and there is a lot of hidden vigor, this is not over-ripe or flabby, it reminds me of a superb Saint-Emillon in some ways, while the 2010 was more left bank Bordeaux like, Rancia is a special vineyard and a special place, one of Chianti’s finest terroir driven wines. The 2011 Rancia is a wine of body, texture and fruit, the feel is excellent and the length is magical, I certainly love this vintage and while it will drink great right away, it has the stuff to age well too, I would guess from my own experiences with Felsina, and Rancia is particular, the window is going to be easy 7 to 12 years, best from 2016 to 2028.
($48 Est.) 94-96 Points, grapelive