Monthly Archives: February 2015

Wine of the Day February 8, 2015

2013AdLucem2013 Ad Lucem, Elaine’s Red, Columbia Valley, Oregon by Lady Hill Winery.
Jerry and Elaine Owen just started Lady Hill Winery in Oregon’s Columbia Valley in 2012 along with consulting winemaker Erik Brasher, they are Oregon veterans, Jerry had co-founded the famed Owen Roe and Erik had made wines at Argyle and raised his profile with top scoring wines at Owen Roe, so this project started off with sound footing. The Lady Hill Winery does a vast array of unique wines from Cabernet and Syrah to Italian varietals, but my friend and Sommelier Peter Steiner, who visited the winery recently, introduced me to their Rhone like blend Elaine’s Red under their Ad Lucem line. The 2013 Ad Lucem Elaine’s Red is a dark and spicy cuvee of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise and Durif (Petite Sirah) that folds together nicely with blackberry, brabble-berry, tangy cherry, plum and blueberry fruits along with briar, mocha notes, fresh cracked pepper, minty herbs and black licorice. There is not too much complexity to be found, but this was a lighter vintage and there is a lot of promise for future releases, though this little wine is very pleasing and well priced. Perfect for bistro drinking, it is also finished in Vino Lok (a glass closure) so there is not chance of cork taint, this well made Rhone inspired Oregon wine will be a tasty friend, drink well for another couple of years, best from 2015 to 2018. I am excited to see more wines and vintages from Ad Lucem by Lady Hill, be sure to keep an eye out for these!
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 7, 2015

2013StaussHipping2013 Weingut Stauss, Riesling, Hipping, Rheinhessen.
The 2013 Weinut Stauss Niersteiner Hipping Riesling is a dry and delicate offering, made by young Christina Stauss, she has done two vintages since taking over the helm at her family’s estate in the Rheinhesen. I got to meet her while she was on a fly away vacation to New Zealand with her boyfriend, with a brief stop over in San Francisco to see relatives. Weingut Stauss has many varietals in the vineyards, including Syrah, but of course the heart and soul of the winery is Riesling, plus they have a few rooms to rent for the country get away for those that want to taste the German farm life first hand. Christina’s other passion is horses and she’s an accomplished horsewoman and along with winemaking, cares for more than a few horses, while her boyfriend is an amateur motorcycle rallyist, preferring his off road experience on two wheels. Christina, who also works for Naked Wines Europe, is excited about her up coming wines and looks to craft wines with more her own personality over the coming years, but I enjoyed her first solo effort, this QbA Hipping Riesling (not labeled as Trocken) is lovely, clean and full of elegant and graceful charm, it shows real promise with bright green apple, peach and soft citrus notes leading the way in this dry style wine. The 2013 Niersteiner Hipping is about 12% and has plenty of acidity, drive and balanced extract, done in all stainless it delivers nice mineral notes, hints of loam, saline and light tropical essences along with that core of fruit, it feels crisp and vivid in the mouth and finishes with just a hint of creamy sweetness and a brisk tangy (sweet and sour) lingers. This lighter style Riesling is an everyday quaffer and should drink nicely for another 3 to 5 years, it should fill out a bit more on the palate with some bottle age and look for some aromatics to develop as well given more time, but this is a solid wine and very pleasing now, best from 2015 to 2020. Weingut Stauss is currently looking to expand to markets worldwide, though sadly has no importer yet in the USA, this is certainly a winery to check out and I hope they find there way to the US market soon.
($N/A No US importer) 88-90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 6, 2015

2014SelbachSaarKabinett2014 Selbach, Riesling, Kabinett, Saar, Germany.
The Saar Kabinett from Selbach is a wonderful Riesling and especially this up coming 2014 release, which was shown to me by Johannes Selbach, of Weingut Selbach-Oster, in January of 2015 as a pre-release cask sample. 2014 was looking like a perfect vintage until constant rain started falling late in the season, which promoted rot in the vineyards, then a huge plague of fruit flies emerged just before harvest, so between the careful picking, sorting and fly ruined grapes, the year ended on a very tough note. What fruit that came in was pretty good with all the right flavors and wonderful intensity, but it will be another small crop, like the 2013 vintage. From what I learned from Johannes and from what I tasted there will be some exceptional wines, but you’ll have to be careful, and there is more delicacy in the wines, lighter and less intense in the dry wines at this stage, the Kabinett level wines seem more expressive and vital at this stage, like this Selbach Saar Kabinett, while it is hard to known about the denser Spatlese and Auslese at this early stage, though I understand there will be very few BA, TBA and Eiswein in 2014 due to the conditions mentioned, best to stock up on 2011, 2012 and 2013 stickies! The Saar Kabinett is bright, forward/fruity and vivid with glorious bounce and lift, it shows vibrant white flowers, kiwi, lime and lime blossom, green apple, grapefruit and white peach along with liquid mineral, crunchy stones and plenty of mouth watering brine, saline and tangerine. A hint of flint and white tea, some honey and dreamy texture all add up to a classy, flexible and stylish offering from Selbach, be sure to keep an eye out for this 2014 when it is released in May or June of this year, the sweetness is matched perfectly with tangy acidity, this will drink great young and drink well from 2015 to 2019 as well as age up to a decade.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 5, 2015

2013StolpmanLaCuadrilla2013 Stolpman Vineyards, La Cuadrilla, Proprietary Red, Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley.
The Stolpman La Cuadrilla red is a fantastic wine and a super value, this rich and juicy 2013 is going to impress and thrill those who have not had it and will equally please those that have, it is a dark blend of Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah all from estate vines. The 2013 has partial whole cluster, though feels and tastes refined and lavishly smooth with only a mild hint of stems, it was fermented mostly in neutral barrels, though some was raised in cement vats as well, everything done here was to make an over achieving red cuvee that has that “wow factor”, mission accomplished. The Stolpman’s and the talents of Sashi Moorman their winemaker really shine through in this superb and unique California wine that has elements of classic northern Rhone style wines and the ripe character of our golden state, plus a exotic Italian twist. I loved the last two vintages of this wine, each year has a new label, and slightly different blend of the varietals, but this young, soon to be released, 2013 is maybe the best and most polished version yet with deep flavors, beautiful detail, intriguing charm, lush texture and layered complexity. The 2013 La Cuadrilla, with a chunk of limestone on the new label, starts with violets, liqueur notes, cassis, white pepper, lavender and forest berries leading to a mouth filling palate of boysenberry, blueberry, plum and currant fruits along with dusty/chalky earth, black fig, olive, anise, cracked peppercorns and carob/mocha. This full bodied, plush and sweet blue/black fruited effort is about 14.5%, but still has juicy fresh acid, vivid transparency, fine tannins and a long graceful finish, it will be great on release and drink wonderfully for 3 to 7 years, best from 2015 to 2019, one of the best new wines for around twenty bucks in the state, do not miss.
($20 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 4, 2015

2014KrugerRumpfTrocken2014 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling, Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Getting an early preview of the 2014 vintage was a thrill, especially good was the Kruger-Rumpf Estate Trocken, it is a beautiful wine with a great future and it’s a awesome value, be sure to look for it late this Spring/Summer on release. I tasted this wine twice from Georg Rumpf’s cask samples, and found it very consistent and well detailed even now, it comes from the Kruger-Rumpf vines in the Nahe where they have a variety of soils including some slate and quartzite, all of which add to the complexity and character. It was interesting talking to Terry Theise, the importer of Rumpf’s wines and Georg Rumpf himself about 2014 and the wines we are seeing from 2013, the 2013 wines have made huge strides in bottle and are almost eclipsing the more heralded 2012 wines at this stage, though both vintages will pay off big time in the cellar, while you’ll might find the 2014 wines a bit more shy, delicate and maybe lighter early, particularly the dry wines, don’t let that fool you, I think they just will, like the 2013, need time to unfold, even though you’ll need to look a bit harder for the best examples, hint, hint the Kruger-Rumpf is a solid investment. This Estate Trocken is a gorgeous Riesling expression, showing remarkable quality and refinement with electric shine, vibrancy and good dry extract. The nose is pure liquid mineral with hints of white flowers, mixed citrus fruits, and light brine leading to a vivid and tangy palate of lime, green apple, yellow peach, tropical notes, white melon and zesty apricot with lemon peel, salty stones, basil and verbena. This crisp and cool Riesling will drink nicely on release, Summer of 2015, and have a long window of pleasure, best from 2016 to 2022. Also, Kruger-Rumpf makes an awesome Scheurebe, look for the 2012 and 2013, and their Grosses Gewachs Pittersberg 2013 is turning into very special stuff, almost magical, be sure to look for it.
($17 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 3, 2015

2012VillaiCipressiRosso2012 Villa i Cipressi, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy.
This 100% Sangiovese Grosso, by former Honey barons Villa i Cipressi is gorgeous and lingering with perfumed fruit, rich texture and a wonderfully long finish, this wine is pure class. I was blown away, it really stood out with impressive personality, charm and graceful details it starts with a mix of flowers, a dark ruby/garnet hue, hints of mineral and stones along with pleasing savory herbs, chalky dust, red spice, sweet tobacco, cedar and strawberry liqueur to go along with a core of plum, cherry, raspberry and mulberry core. While the world climbs all over itself for the 2010 Brunello wines, this little beauty can be a great wine to enjoy while those big brother Brunelli age in the cellar, this sublime effort is ready to go right now, not waiting required or needed. Villa i Cipressi farms two distinct plots, one close to the town and heart of Montalcino itself and the other just south in Castelnuovo dell’ Abate, these tiny parcels hardly add to much at 3 Hectares, but the Rosso and Brunello are stunning examples of terroir and passion. The Rosso di Montalcino is the secret star here and a bargain with it’s sweet and succulent fruit, subtle complexity and vivid transparency, drink now or from 2015 to 2019.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 2, 2015

2013QuenardPersan2013 Jean-Francois Quenard, Persan “Les 2 Jean” Vin de Savoie Rouge, France.
The grape is Persan, it is native varietal to the Rhone-Alpes and Savoie, but can also be found in areas of Piedmonte Italy where it is generally known as Becuet. The origins are still a mystery, though there are many legends, the most likely at this point is that is intact from Savoie, though may have got it’s name from the hamlet of Princens by Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, a historic vineyard east of Grenoble that was very highly regarding back in the 17th Century. The reference on Persan comes from Jancis Robinson’s latest volume Wine Grapes, a lengthy and compelling read for the most hardened wine geek! This unique and rare grape, of which there is only about 25 acres to be found in France, makes for a pretty and Gamay like red wine that has elements that remind you of Pinot Noir and Syrah, with some characteristics and details that also feel like Trousseau. The Quenard 2013 Persan, imported by Charles Neal, is medium weight with a bright ruby hue starting with light floral and earth notes, hints of pepper, walnut oil and good acidity, it’s main core is plum, cherry and blueberry fruits with some strawberry, red peach and cranberry. This is a very elegant and direct wine with not too much complexity, soft tannins and with mild savory herbs and mineral tones in the background, it comes in at about 12.5% alcohol and has a decent finish, drink it from 2015 to 2018. I really enjoyed this totally new to me wine very much and hope to taste more, a super fun discovery and experience.
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 1, 2015

2013WeinbachSylvaner2013 Domaine Weinbach, Sylvaner Reserve, Clos des Capucins, Vin d’ Alsace, France.
Domaine Weinbach is one of my favorite Alsace producers along with Deiss and Marc Tempe, and their Sylvaner is absolutely sublime, certainly the best around that I’ve tried from the region. Sylvaner, also known as Gruner Sylvaner, is now believed to an ancient eastern European grape, a cross between Traminer and Hunnic, a grape thought to be an Austrian wild grape, though it could very well come from Hungary or Romania. I had always thought it was a man made hybrid varietal, oops, shows you can learn something new all the time. The best versions of this grape come from Alsace and parts of southern Germany, but it seems to be losing favor in both France and Germany with many vines being replaced and it had it’s best run between WWII and the 1970’s, though Franken in Germany seems to be having a mini revival and are embracing as their own using those funky squat retro bottles. The wines you find now being made from Sylvaner tend to be mostly dry, and Domaine Weinbach’s is wonderfully dry, mineral intense and very flavorful, a classy and beautiful example. Domaine Weinbach’s tragic loss of star winemaker Laurence Faller, who died of a sudden heart attack last, has left the wine world and especially Alsace with a void, she will always be missed, but she and her spirit lives on in these new Weinbach releases. The 2013 Sylvaner Reserve Clos des Capucins starts with bright citrus, hints of oyster shell, mineral, white flowers and green apple with a light shinning golden hue in the glass leading to peach, tangerine, tropical notes and river stones along with a touch of salty/briny spices. There is surprising vigor and vibrancy with a nice lift of acidity and refined charm throughout with a round mouth feel, Sylvaner rarely reaches these heights, I happily recommend this lovely wine.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at