Thursday, July 9, 2020

Max Ferd. Richter in Mosel Fine Wines

Time flies! It's already time for the reviews for the 2019 vintage out of the Mosel and Mosel Fine Wines provides its usual in-depth insights. Max Ferd. Richter had a great set of press, with some exciting new releases in the forefront, including a Pinot Noir! We've rounded up all the reviews of the vintage and there's much to like. Prost to Dirk & Constantin!

The estate of Max Ferd. Richter has been passed down from father to son for the past 300 years. The current reins are held by Dr. Dirk Richter, the 9th generation, and will eventually be passed down to his son Constantin. The estate produces world-class Rieslings from some of the most esteemed vineyards in the Mosel, and all production comes from estate holdings. Through the entire line of wines, their hallmark balance is evident in every glass. Throughout the estate, only all-natural fertilizers, sustainable farming, and hand-harvesting are employed. Vineyards are treated as needed so in some vintages some vineyards are entirely ecological. They use pomace, compost and stall manure as fertilizers. Application is in late winter and early spring. Overall, they are trying to minimize waste, water and energy consumption.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Herdade do Rocim in Wine Enthusiast

Stalwart Portuguese winery Herdade do Rocim is known for producing a wide range of bottlings, fully expressing the unique terroir of their Alentejo estate (and their Vale de Mata property in Lisboa). Roger Voss, writing for the Wine Enthusiast, has provided reviews for the most recent vintages, and the results are great! With multiple 90+ point scores, Rocim continues to raise their game, producing an in-depth portrait of their land and what it can yield.

Located in the Lower Alentejo region in the southern half of Portugal, between Vidigueira and Cuba, lies the estate of Herdade do Rocim. Catarina Vieira, daughter has been coordinating the development of the estate and she believes that Alentejo has the unique conditions required to produce world-class wines. Since purchasing the estate, Caterina invested greatly in the land by completely regenerating the vineyards and building a new state of the art winery. She believes that Rocim has great potential for producing high quality wines with worldwide recognition, and has hopes of expanding the brand under the umbrella of quality for the region. She has created a project that gives value not only to Alentejo, but to Portugal as a whole.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wine of the Week - Drew Family Wines' Site-Specific Pinot Noirs

Drew Family Wines, located in the Mendocino Ridge AVA, focuses on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. Their wines are all small-production, hand-crafted examples of this coastal growing area. Two of their Pinot Noirs, "The Fog-Eater" and "Mid-Elevation" show the range and clarity this special region gives to their wines.

The "Fog-Eater" is Drew's appellation Pinot Noir sourced from several Anderson Valley sites, bringing them together to express the unique cool climate characteristics of Anderson Valley. As Antonio Galloni, writing for Vinous, says of the 2018 vintage:
"The 2018 Pinot Noir Fog Eater is soft, pliant and wonderfully inviting. Succulent red/purplish berry fruit, mint, spice and floral notes all meld together, with bright saline notes that add energy as well as tension. One of the more approachable wines in the range today, the Fog Eater is absolutely exquisite."
And the "Mid-Elevation" brings together fruit from the Drew Ranch and the Valenti Ranch, two sites that sit at 1200-1500 feet in elevation. From Galloni:
"The 2018 Pinot Noir Mid Elevation is absolutely gorgeous. Finely cut and nuanced, the 2018 is wonderfully translucent and yet, there is plenty of depth too, a combination that is super-appealing in my book. Freshly cut flowers, bright red/purplish fruit, mint and chalk all run through this wonderfully inviting, nuanced Pinot. This is such a classy wine." 

With over 25 years in the wine business in Central and Northern California, Jason Drew brings a vast depth of knowledge and a holistic perspective to his winemaking. Drew focuses on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. For his sourced fruit, he has long standing partnerships with several local vineyard growers who share his passion for sustainable and meticulous farming practices. Single vineyard sources are chosen for their climate, clonal selection and complexity of soil type. Winemaking practices remain focused on traditional methods that include whole cluster and native yeast fermentations, hand punchdowns and no fining or filtering. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Wine of the Week - Cesconi Nosiola

This week's featured wine is a true curiosity, in the best possible way. With less than 500 acres planted worldwide, Nosiola is a specialty of the Trentino region in Northern Italy, and if you're going to try a speciality, you should go for the best available interpretation. Hailed by Ian d'Agata of Vinous as "the master of the Nosiola variety in Trentino," Cesconi provides an impeccable rendition of this rare grape.

With its hallmark notes of hazelnut (Nosiola's name is believed to have been derived from the Italian word for hazelnut: nocciola) supported by apple and citrus, this delicate wine is surprisingly complex and shows lively acidity. It's a great way to take a virtual trip to this gorgeous land north of Lake Garda.

Perched high above Trento on banks of the Adige River is the hill of Pressano. In these rugged Alpine surroundings, the Cesconi family tends their vineyards planted to both red and white grapes. The current proprietors can trace their family roots back to the 17th century, and building on more than two centuries of cultivating and producing wine in Trentino, the four Cesconi brothers - Lorenzo, Roberto, Alexander and Franco - as well as their father Paul, continue the family tradition. The family has a deep appreciation and respect for the achievements of their ancestors, however, they seek to build on this history by perfecting the traditional practices of the Domaine. To that end, the brothers work entirely organically in the vineyards and continue to move towards biodynamic methods.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Wines of the Week - The Saint Josephs from J.L. Chave

Wine growers in the northern Rhône since 1481, the Chave family (currently helmed by Jean-Louis) represents 16 generations of unbroken lineage committed to the production of some of the finest Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne on the planet. One of the hallmarks of Jean-Louis' tenure will surely be his commitment to Saint Joseph. Rightly heralded for their legendary Hermitage wines, the Chaves' hometown is actually located in Mauves, across the Rhône River. This is the locus of the work that Jean-Louis started decades ago. From "The Search for Greatness in Saint-Joseph Syrah" by Jon Bonné in Punch:
"Why would anyone, much less a luminary like Chave, throw such resources into an appellation known, at best, for making minor versions of the Rhône’s epic syrah-based wines? For one thing, because places like Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and Cornas have grown so prohibitively expensive that in order to remain viable, the northern Rhône needs other potentially great wines. And, in Chave’s case, there’s a moral importance to making good, affordable wine from less anointed places. But it’s also because Chave, and other high-profile vignerons, like Jean Gonon, see Saint-Joseph as a botched experiment they have the opportunity to fix. This is why Chave, in 1995, began to resurrect Bachasson and other nearby parcels like Chalais, in his hometown of Mauves. To access abandoned land, he had to construct nearly two miles worth of roads. He hired five masons to build or reconstruct terrace walls, replicating the abandoned terraces still found in the hills throughout this corner of the Rhône, in order to plant vineyards on slopes as steep as those found to the north, in Côte-Rotie. He even tends a vine nursery of mass-selection cuttings, to preserve local cultivars—all of it meant to prove that this sprawling appellation, or at least its historic core, deserves a better fate."

Just in time for Easter comes this recipe for garlic-rosemary grilled lamb chops from Wine Spectator courtesy of Chef Michael Velardi. We, and they, can't think of any accompaniment better than a classic Saint-Joseph Syrah, and the magazine has heartily recommended the 2016 vintage of Chave's Syrahs very recently. It sounds like a perfect pairing for Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wine of the Week - The Single-Vineyard Marsannays of Domaine Jean Fournier

This week, we're taking a deep dive into two unique terroirs in the Cote d'Or appellation of Marsannay. When the villages of Burgundy were classified, Marsannay was long ignored, only gaining AOP status in 1987. At that time, it was known for its production of rosé and little else, but in the intervening years, fastidious producers like Domaine Jean Fournier have worked hard to reveal all this special region has to offer.

There are no premier crus in the Marsannay AOP (a status that should be reconsidered), a fact that actually can work in favor of Burgundy fans. Because that 1er Cru designation isn't on the bottle, Marsannay is an appellation that can provide astounding quality for very reasonable prices, a rarity in Burgundy as a whole.

Domaine Jean Fournier is now run by dynamic young Laurent Fournier, son of Jean, who crafts wines with integrity in a non-interventionist style. Old vines can be found throughout his vineyards, contributing to the immense purity and finesse Fournier’s wines are known for. He creates a range of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from the diverse terroirs of Marsannay and today we're focusing on two of the most prestigious plots of land he owns.

The Es Chezots Lieux-dit is one of the latest-ripening in the region and is known for its cool Comblanchien limestone soils. Laurent's vines are up to 65 years old, setting the stage for gracefulness and and finesse with an appealing fruit profile and tannins that can support years of aging. The 2016 vintage was heralded by Neal Martin, who writes:
" offers black cherry and chalk aromas but this remains pretty tight-lipped. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe red cherry and cranberry fruit, the tannins here a little edgy and angular, leading to a chalky-textured but quite persistent finish. Very fine."
The Clos du Roi on the other hand always brings a lively freshness to its wine. Bold red fruit and a hint of smoke are characteristics of wines from this vineyard, which has limestone-dominant soils and sits on an easterly-facing hill. According to Martin:
"The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, a nice touch of bitter cherry to counter that ripe, lush red berry fruit with a tang of cracked black pepper towards the finish. Great potential."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Wine of the Week - Podere il Castellaccio 'Valente' Toscano Rosso

Podere il Castellaccio was born of passion. Owner Alessandro Scappini grew up in the area of Bolgheri, Italy before it was a land of Super Tuscans. His grandfather made wine and Alessandro’s current project is meant to hearken back to the days when local grapes were used and wine spoke of the land. Instead of the ubiquitous Bordeaux varieties many growers have planted since the 1970s, Alessandro sticks to the indigenous grapes that have always grown here – Sangiovese, Pugnitello, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo.

As Alessandro explains: “I love wine. The business side isn’t as important. I make wine because it reminds me of my childhood, my grandfather. I decided to work with grapes that are indigenous to the region because it’s all part of the tradition of this terroir.”

The winery will be organically certified soon, but the practices of natural techniques go back far further than the three years required for certification: “Though we are waiting for organic certification, we have always practiced organically. It’s all part of the traditional way we do things. The soil is tilled using horses since there have been horses on this farm since before I was a child. The wines are minimally processed and see little new oak because that’s the way my grandfather did it. I do everything to preserve the integrity of these ancient varieties.”

Alessandro belives his wine is special because of its terroir: “There are many micro-terroirs in Italy. When people come to this area, they always want to find wines that can only be made here, something that represents the history of the area. Podere il Castellaccio represents the local, the terroir. It is the real Bolgheri.”

In local dialect, the name Valénte represents something of of worth that is also a good value. When Alessandro’s Granfather is speaking about something good, he used to say “That’s Valénte.” The wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Pugnitello, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo and shows Elegant, spicy notes with hints of morello cherry and blackcurrant, balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and Mediterranean pine resins.