A CUBILLO FOR THE AGES

What a difference a year makes!  As the majority of you who read us regularly are aware, there are likely no greater fans of Rioja, with the possible exception of some of the Riojanos themselves, than we are.   One of the rewards of doing this kind of thing, for us, is to get paid for doing something we would do anyway.  Today’s exercise gives us the opportunity to talk about a few of our favorite things, specifically one of the revered houses located in Rioja’s ‘holy city’ (Haro), Lopez de Heredia, and one of the greatest vintages we have had the good fortune to experience from the region, 2010.

As to Lopez de Heredia, there is little we need to say about this icon of traditional Spanish winemaking founded in 1892.  We have tasted virtually every level of wine they produce, including some historic older bottlings, and have never been disappointed even given pretty high expectations.  They do all the right things to create the wines they want to make and charge very attractive prices for the various levels offered.  Granted prices have edged up a bit as the world continues to discover the wonders of Rioja, but they are still pretty sensational given the other choices of equal caliber.

As to 2010, it has been a while since we have talked about the vintage.  It is a sensational harvest with purity of fruit, ripe tannins, classic lines and fine structure.  They are wines that will age decades yet can deliver a glassful of joy next weekend.  The Riojanos have definitely been surprisingly low-keyed about the exceptional year, but the rest of the wine world has been unanimous in its praise. 

Simply put, releases in Rioja come sort of in waves.  For the most part crianzas come out first, followed by reservas and finally gran reservas, all titles very specifically defined by Spanish law based on barrel age and time in bottle. Each winery has their own schedule as to how the wines roll out, though they mostly follow the same level by level pattern we described.  Most of the 2010 crianzas and reservas are long gone and we have even moved through a number of the gran reservas.  But the top older houses run on a much slower cycle.  So we will be seeing a number of the ‘big dogs’ from this great vintage coming out over the next several months.  Hallelujah!

As for Lopez de Heredia, they are just beginning on their efforts in 2010 starting with the Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Cubillo Crianza 2010, their entry-level bottling.  This is where we must make the point again, one of the best houses in one of the best vintages.  We have faithfully followed Lopez for years and enjoyed virtually every vintage of Cubillo along the way.  This is the best version we have ever tasted by a good bit.  Made from 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and the rest Mazuelo and Graciano all from estate vineyards, this saw three years in barrel (like a gran reserva) after which it is bottled unfiltered. 

Sure it has all of the accustomed sweet cherry and plum fruit, dusty/spicy classic Rioja accents and underpinning of vanilla and balsamic.  But there is more weight, power and richness in the midpalate, impeccable balance between the fruit and tannins and a remarkable but refined presence in the glass.  Over the course of several hours it evolved glacially, so packed and structured, yet it never ceased to impress.  We dare say it is better than some of their Tondonia and Bosconia bottlings we have had in the past, yet this surprising beverage can be had for under $25.  Amazing? You bet!

But that’s Rioja, that’s Lopez, and the greatness of 2010.

We were not alone in our praise.  Luis Gutierrez of robertparker.com wrote, “The 2010 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza is superb and shows great depth and nuance, with great freshness, and the red cherries are complemented by notes of blood oranges, nutmeg and other spices. It has a soft and harmonious palate, with great balance and very good freshness. – 93 Points!”

Given James Suckling’s usual brevity of comments, this is a virtual tome, “Cubillo is a very focused and quite crisp style of red that has spent three years in barrique and then in larger cask to wait for bottling, which happens two years before the expected release. The richness and depth of complex dried wood and spice here is seamlessly sewn into the dried red and dark cherries. The palate is pinned around a fresh-blackberry core that marries still sweet fruit to more savory style. Long and balanced. The tannins are fine yet assertive. It freshens into the finish nicely. Drink or hold…95 Points!”

Great house, great vintage, great price, this one checks all the boxes!  This is not to be missed.

EPIC, ‘ALMOST PERFECT’ RWT

We have been on the Penfolds trail for a very long time, going back to the 1980s when few people in this market even knew what it was or paid attention to Australian wine at all.   We bought closeouts of Bin 389, 407, and even Grange  back in the day at our first location.  Tasting them back then, we became fans pretty quickly.  How could you not?  At the time the wines had plenty of pure, in-your-face fruit, supple tannins and honest flavors.   They not only had charm, but they delivered value. 

A lot has happened since those days.  There were years of following Grange in the same way we followed top Bordeaux (the 1998 was a particular benchmark for us and before the prices got anywhere near where they are today).  There was a period where the wines began to take on a very commercial demeanor and showed signs of excessive acidification.  There was another period where the prices on what you might call the bread-and-butter mid-range wines increased 3 to 4 fold as they became white-hot in the Asian market.  There was also a period where the direction of the winery, and its corporate owners, was a little sketchy based on financials.

Fast forward to today.  Prices on some items still seem a little out of sync with the marketplace, and the current distribution scenario, in California anyway, is not exactly what we would expect for mega-volume premium players like Penfolds, Berigner, and BV.   But with respect to the juice itself, Penfolds is all systems go under the steady hand of winemaker Peter Gago. 

Given that, our mission today is to explain why this brilliant effort of Penfolds Shiraz RWT is not only a great wine that belongs in everyone’s cellar who can pay the freight, but is actually something of a deal at its $139.98 price.  First, the company spiel that RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz presents an admirable alternative to the multi-regional sourcing and American oak maturation that are hallmarks of Grange.  It is intended to express the best of a single region, Barossa Valley, and is done entirely in French oak. 

From Penfolds, “The initials RWT stand for ‘Red Winemaking Trial’, the name given to the project internally when developmental work began in 1995. Naturally, now no longer a ‘Trial’, RWT Shiraz was launched in May 2000 with the 1997 vintage. Its style is opulent and fleshy, contrasting with Grange, which is more muscular and assertive. RWT is made from fruit primarily selected for its aromatic qualities and lush texture. The result is a wine that helps to redefine Barossa Shiraz at the highest quality level…”

The standards for this wine are high, and the 2016 vintage offered the opportunity to shoot for the stars qualitatively. In a recent visit, Barossa winemaking dignitary Dave Powell (founder of Torbreck, and recently his own Powell label) said of the vintage ‘I didn’t have to do anything…the fruit was so outstanding.’  Aged in French oak (72% new), RWT offers hints of vanilla and cedar, but more than anything, it showcases the region’s bold berry and plum fruit.  The sleek, rich oak veneer is a fine backdrop to this powerful but polished fruit, and from first whiff, you know this is a special wine. 

Don’t just take our word.  Jeb Dunnuck made quite the case for the 2016 RWT in his own publication, “The 2016 Shiraz RWT is a brilliant, brilliant wine, and I suspect the finest version of this cuvee ever produced. Thrilling notes of black raspberries, crème de cassis, toasted spice, mint, and espresso all emerge from this deep, rich, powerful Shiraz. With massive concentration, it still glides across the palate with no sensation of heaviness or rusticity, building, perfectly ripe tannins, and incredible opulence and intensity. It shows more grilled meat notes with time in the glass and is a monumental Barossa Shiraz that flirts with perfection99 Points.”

It is all of that, as well as one of the greatest wines we have tasted this year.  As to the price, these days that kind of money will get you a good Bordeaux (but not a First or super Second Growth), a competent small production Napa Cabernet (but not any of the elite names), or one of the best Shiraz wines on the planet at one-fifth the price of its more famous stable-mate.  The choice seems clear.  It is a mouth-filling, legend-in-the-making must for those who relish big, bold, stylish reds.

BOISTEROUS BARBERA 2017

We weren’t sure how to title this one. The reference to Barbera is a murky one for some people. In Piedmont, Barbera is considered one of the ‘little’ wines, something of an everyday beverage with the grapes usually relegated to the lesser terroirs.

Barbera also has an image problem of a sort. What is it? There are so many variations. You’ve got something decidedly utilitarian and unadorned from a number of the larger producers in Piedmont all the way to someone like Braida who is shooting for the stars with carefully tended vineyards and an upscale oak regimen.

There are many personalities from firm and fruit forward to stern and acidic, and all of them perform better if the is food involved. Most recently in the 2013 and 2014 vintages, very difficult for the earlier harvest, ‘lesser’ grapes in particular, they mostly ranged from uninspired to awful. The 2015s and 2016s were at the other end of the spectrum, generally very good and often outstanding. Given the variations in style and dramatic swings in vintages, we couldn’t begin to guess what most folks think about Barbera.

The 2017 vintage isn’t going to answer the question of what Barbera should be. But it is a unique and joyful look at something the grape can be but rarely is. The short story of the vintage is crops reduced by weather quirks in the spring, low yields, warm dry summer, phenolic ripeness and an early harvest. The result is possibly the juiciest, tenderest, most engaging examples of Barbera we can recall tasting…ever!

Hey it’s early in the game, but there’s no reason to expect that the freakishly friendly 2017 Barberas we have tasted thus far aren’t a proper vanguard for what is coming (the 2017 Nebbiolos have been remarkably precocious as well).

Our poster child for what we have seen thus far is the Revello Barbera d’Alba 2017 . Billowing nose of spicy dark red fruits, supple palate with tender edges, gregarious and juicy every step of the way, the profile hardly says Barbera given the history of the grape here, though the flavors are varietally correct.

Also, at $15, it’s a lot of wine for the fare and, even though it is an uncommonly friendly version of the genre, it is just as food friendly as it should be as, under all of that fruit, there’s enough cut to get the job done.

RHONE 2016: AN IMPORTANT NEW/OLD FACE

At this point we’ll presume that you have heard us wax poetic about the 2016 vintage in the southern Rhone on multiple occasions, so we’ll cut right to the main story.  Even in a place with the long history of the Rhone, there are new stories and exciting new things to discover.  The land, of course, has always been here, and farmhouse from which the property takes its name, St. Antonin, has been in references back to the time of Napoleon and was built in the 17th Century.  What made the big change at this property, and likely the reason you re hearing about it today is the new ownership circa 2014.

A number of serious Rhone domaines have looked to this area, called Plan de Dieu, as a place that provided terroir that is not unlike Chateauneuf itself and offers the opportunity for expansion.   But here estates with contiguous holdings of clay, galet, and sand soils, don’t come up very often.  When this one did, the Sabon family was on it.  Now there are a few Sabons in the Rhone.  But this particular family of Sabons are the folks that own the iconic Domaine de la Janasse in Chateauneuf.

This new domaine of 15 hectares, plus a couple of hectares of Chateauneuf transferred from Janasse to the Clos St. Antonin estate, are under the control of daughter Isabelle along with her father Aime.  Certainly the succession of vineyard land (Napoleonic law and all of that) had a part in the creation of this project, but we are only focused on the juice itself.  On that score, Clos St. Antonin is off to a whale of a start.  These are only their second releases and, while the timing couldn’t have been better with respect to vintages, it is clear that Isabelle Sabon has quite the touch. 

As we tasted through the lineup, we mused that her wines showed a deft hand and a certain refinement yet still delivered a substantial mouthful of rich, savory fruit.  Brother beware, the lady has skills.  The Clos St. Antonin Cotes du Rhone 2016 is a polished bargain at its price point and, as we have said on a few occasions with specialty Cotes du Rhone in 2016, her Clos St. Antonin Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2016 could hang with the ‘bigger fish’ and outscored a number of Chateauneufs.  The proof is in the glass.

Made from 80% Grenache, the balance Mourvedre and Syrah, all from 30-50 year old vines, it is raised in concrete tanks, foudres and neutral French oak demi-muids.  We’ll let Jeb Dunnuck do the play-by-play, “…the 2016 Côtes du Rhône should be sought out by savvy buyers. Ripe, rounded, and incredibly sexy, with lots of kirsch and blackberry fruits, garrigue, and mineral notes, it has impeccable balance as well as purity of fruit. It’s a knockout Côtes du Rhône to drink over the coming 3-4 years.

This up and coming superstar of an estate was created by Isabelle and Christophe Sabon (of Domaine de Janasse) in 2015. The estate is located in the Plan de Dieu, northeast of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, yet they have access to some prime terroirs in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the La Crau and Font du Loup lieux-dits. These are legit, awesome wines, and savvy readers need to get on board!... 91 Points “

Of the Plan de Dieu, “Even better, the 2016 Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu has to be one of the great wines from this appellation, which comes from an ocean of vines located on the valley floor between Vacqueyras and Cairanne. Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and 20% Syrah brought up in foudre and demi-muids, it offers awesome notes of cassis, blackberries, spice box, and licorice. Ripe, full-bodied, and powerful, yet also balanced and pure, do your best to latch onto a few bottles…94 Points.”

Yes the field is crowded right now.  But even in this current (though diminishing) sea of glorious southern Rhones, these are significant efforts.  They are lush, engaging, pure and hedonistic, yet at the same time are beautifully aligned and somehow more precise than most.  Like the man said, “savvy readers need to get on board.”

DREAM SWEETS: Part 2

Global warming has changed a lot of things about German wines. So have the changing tastes of some markets that have put an emphasis on dry/trocken versions of German wine (for better or worse), particularly from elite ‘grand cru’ sites from which the great dessert bottlings used to come. When we go to German tasting these days, we are typically forced to slog through 30% (or more) skeletal dry Rieslings among the offerings while there are only a handful of true Auslesen in the room.

Maybe tastes really have changed and the demand for the higher pradikat wines has waned in recent years. Our objection with Germany is that the traditional fruity style is what these vineyards do like nowhere else in the world, yet we are fighting Nature by superimposing a current winemaking ‘fad’ on vineyard sites who are best served doing what they have been doing for centuries. Those are fighting words to some of the ‘New Age’ wine types but, frankly, we don’t care. We love a great auslese and the Selbach-Oster Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg ‘Schmitt’ 2016 is a fine example of why.

Selabch-Oster is a top flight producer that owns parcels in several of the best sites on the Mosel, and he makes a lot of different bottlings. His ‘benchmark’ wines are from three very old plots high on the slopes within specific, high profile vineyards. One of these is Schmitt from the Zeltiner Himmelreich. Schmitt has a perfect southern exposure, but a deeper subsoil of crumbly, broken slate mixed with organic matter and loam. Importer Terry Thiesse likens the vineyard’s orientation further from the river and above the town where the human element creates additional warmth to that of Bernkasteler Doktor.

It is also made in a singular style. Whereas most Auslese are the result of several passes through the vineyard, Selbach harvests the whole block at once, fermenting the grapes of varied degrees of ripeness together to reflect not only the terroir, but the ‘moment’. The grapes are fermented with only their natural yeasts and allowed to determine their own fate, be that trocken or a knockout auslese like we have here.

Stephan Reinhardt wrote a love poem that covers all the bases succinctly, “The 2016 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese “Schmitt” is a very clear, fresh and precise on the nose, with very fine mineral aromas of crunchy slate. This reminds me a bit of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr in its finesse, perfectly ripe fruit and the finest possible expression of minerals in wine. This is the finest Schmitt I have ever had and surely one of the greatest 2016s from the Mosel. Its finesse and elegance are mind-blowing…97 points

Great now and for a couple of decades hence.

DREAM ‘SWEETS’: Part 1

First off, thanks for clicking. It never ceases to amaze us that when you say something is a dessert style, people (the same ones that drink Chardonnays with 2% residual sugar and love those sweets when they are poured in their glass) scurry away. It is not a sin to like fruitier wines, nor does it mean you aren’t ‘cool’, in spite of what the populace at large might do to suggest otherwise. Far too many people act like drinking dessert wines is akin to drinking pancake syrup. But in fact the sizzling acidity that supports the great ones make them brighter and more versatile than a lot of wines out there.

Anyway, we are still fans of the genre and appreciate their place in the wine spectrum. Also, in spite of all of the negative attitude out there, we sell a lot of them…often providing we don’t say the ‘S’ word. For the moment we have a couple of gems that deserve a word. First up is the Felsina Vin Santo 2007, a fascinating and complex wine that is the result of an equally fascinating process.

The grapes in Felsina’s case are Trebbiano, Malvasia and Sangiovese that are harvested by hand and put through a rigorous sorting before the grapes are placed on mats until January/February. They are then de-stemmed and pressed, and the must is transferred to sealed, 100-litre oak casks containing the “mother” (a thick substance remaining from previous vintages).

After 7 years in storage, the cask is opened and the wine is bottle-aged for a minimum of 6 months. It’s a little bit ‘life on the edge’ because anything can happen in that closed environment for such a long period of time. When the stars align, it is magic, and this complex peach, dried apricot, carmel and spices elixir is one of those engaging examples.

Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner went off on this one saying, “The 2007 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico (375-milliliters) is a gorgeous wine with so many descriptors that apply to the ever-evolving and complex bouquet. This golden dessert wine offers distinct aromas of dried apricot, honey and saffron. But give it a few moments and earthy or autumnal tones of wild mushroom, forest floor and aged cheese also rise to the top. The effect is almost savory and definitely very sophisticated. The wine glides smoothly over the palate with creamy richness and viscous smoothness. ..94+.”

Simply a stunning way to end an evening and, if you don’t finish it, it will hold up for a few days. (Go to ‘Dream Sweets: Part 2’)

ALT WHITES: PART 3

Over the years we have told a lot of tales.  More than a few of them have been about a new star coming to market that was going to have a significant impact.  This one is more of a rebirth of sorts that has the potential to have greater impact as time passes in the rather specific area of Austrian whites.  For the time being, it is important to understand the ‘players’, and as importantly the dirt, or the stones as this elevated site is a bit light on topsoil.

Without going into a whole Mitchneresque reach back to the formation of the earth, Atzberg and Singgeriegel are virtually identical in their composition of red stones, slate and gneiss with little topsoil.  Eventually they were separated by a stream called Mieslingbach.   Singgeriegel went on to become recognized as one of, if not the top vineyard in the Wachau.  Atzberg can trace its history back to the 13th Century and the building called Mauritiushof was used by the monks to collect grapes.  The Gritsch family bought the property in 1799, and used the building for wine production. 

In recent times the Atzberg Vineyard itself was not cultivated.  It’s terraced vineyards high on the hill were unplanted until winemaker Franz-Josef Gritsch and his partners Hans Schmid and Robert Wutzl decided that the spot was too special and important a site to be ignored.  They dove in and ‘recultivated’ this historic site with the idea of restoring it to its formal elite status that was mentioned in records as far back as 1382.

Everything is ‘old school’. This 100% Gruner Veltliner vineyard is labor-intensive, with the grapes handpicked and carried in small tubs down to the lower valley. The thinking was that, given the history, if Singgeriegel is such an iconic vineyard, so too should Atzberg be among the stars of the region. If the Atzberg Gruner Veltliner Steilterrassen 2016 (Steilterrassen literally means ‘steep terraces’) is any indication, the ‘reclamation’ project is going quite swimmingly. The juice in the glass definitely gets one’s attention. It begins with a harmonious succession of aromas such as red berries, earthy minerality, apple, pear, wild herbs and spices.

In the mouth, all of this reveals itself in a palate that has not only the anticipated lift but a fairly broad, ample, and tender feel.  Some Gruners sting, this one does a lot more caressing while still delivering the kind of bright, energetic experience one expects from this varietal when done right.  Somewhat kinder and gentler, it delivers loads of character and finishing salinity.  While it should please established fans of the genre, it is capable of winning some new friends for Gruner by virtue of its friendlier texture.  The breeding and complexity of the site in the glass support the effort Gritsch and friends have put into it. 

We don’t have any flashy reviews.  We didn’t find any on this specific vintage, but didn’t really need them to validate that this was exciting stuff.  Also, given the laborious nature of the site, we found the price to be more than fair, particularly when compared to an ‘upper cuvee’ from the site called Obere that literally costs more than twice as much.  Delicious Gruner that can play with serious food should you choose, this is an early look into what we expect to be recognized as one of the superstar sites of the region soon enough.  

ALT WHITES: PART 2

We embraced the whites from northwestern Spain immediately when we first started seeing a lot of them in the mid-90s. We’re still big fans but it is important to know that all such wines are not created equal. They can be riveting and bright, but can also be dull or over acidic. The right ones, as an aperitif or particularly with seafood, can be magic. We try a lot of them that you will never hear about because the range for success is a narrow one, and we think they should be reasonably priced to boot. With that in mind here are a couple of choices that work for us on all the required levels and, in fact, are repeat performers here.

Back when we started selling Albarinos, we had to explain to people what they were. Now enough people have had them to know what they are about. Styles and performance can vary widely given the producer, the volume, and where the vineyard is relative to the sea among other things. The Turonia Albarino Rias Baixas 2017 once again has everything we are looking for and delivers at a price that is easy to swallow. Somewhere between a Viognier and a Riesling in personality, the wine shows white stone fruit, lime, some spice and floral notes, and a refreshing finishing salinity with some fruit volume up-front and lift throughout.

Perhaps a bit harder to explain is the Eduardo Peña Ribeiro Blanco 2017. Ribiero is a small area inland from Raixas Bias and north of Portugal that specializes in unique blended whites. The rock star of the region is one called Emilio Rojo that is on most of the Michelin restaurant lists in Spain but costs in the $40-50 range. The Edward Pena gives you a very fine example of this genre for a lot less money.

The Edward Pena is a blend of Treixadura, Albariño, Godello, Lado and Loureira macerated and fermented in 300-liter European oak barrels. Pale yellow in color with golden highlights, the nose is a complex melange of lemon, bay leaf and orange blossom aromas, and tropical scents such as pineapple and mango. Peach and apricot, some honied tones, minerals and light balsamic smoky touch, it’s a bit broader on the palate than the ‘coastal’ whites but still has deceptive lift. An intriguing genre here that should have more followers but that’s because few people have seen these wines.

ALT WHITES: PART 1

Back in the day when Chardonnay was king (and it still is in a lot of households), there was the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) movement. Ultimately no universal truths came out of it, only the fact that more people realize that other white wines, some even with funny names, can be very pleasing beverages and, as a bonus, more versatile with food.

White Rhones can be something of an enigma to some folks. North and south feature different varietals, blends can be quirky, and how one utilizes oak can be a make or break proposition. There is also a history of wines that were a bit oxidative and rather expensive that gave the category a rather checkered history in decades past.

Even though white wine production is considerably smaller than red in this part of the world, vintners have made great strides in producing whites that are both compelling and bright. In this case, Francois Villard is probably more known for his whites and the Francois Villard Saint Peray Version 2017 presents the kind of clarity and lift that few wines from this lesser-known region achieve.

Pear and citrus fruit punctuated by subtle floral and mineral aspects, this got our attention from first sip. Wine Advocate’s Joe Czerwinski was spot on with his notes here, “Villard’s 2017 Saint Peray Version is simultaneously rich and opulent yet bright and refreshing. This medium to full-bodied blend of 65% Marsanne and 35% Roussanne was barrel fermented and aged in older barrels, giving it plenty of weight and a silky texture, but the flavors of anise and flamed citrus zest keep the wine fresh, lingering elegantly on the finish…93 points.” The expressive, gregarious nature of this white makes it a surprisingly engaging choice in both aperitif or food applications.

HANSEL PINOT: MORE THAN JUST ‘NUMBERS’

It has become the norm for consumers to ‘buy by the numbers’ or respond to some other publicity that calls attention to a particular producer. For that reason we still see Walter Hansel’s wines, which have performed admirably for a couple of decades after starting with some cuttings and a little help from Tom Rochioli, as still kind of under the radar. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad for them because they are performing well above the crowd but still aren’t quite considered the iconic producer they should be, though they don’t have any trouble selling wine.

The good part is that, because of their less-than-deserved notoriety and rather humble pricing, they are one of the best values in premium Pinot Noir. Take this 2016 Walter Hansel Estate Pinot Noir Russian River Valley. It is all estate-grown and made up of grapes from the five blocks on the property that are also the source of individual vineyard bottlings that do get their share of critical attention. It is loaded with personality, exudes a very tender and engaging palate of dark cherry and mulberry touched with the classic clove and spice notes that define the Russian River’s terroir.

As we have said many times, the ‘little guy’ is usually tasted among it’s higher intentioned siblings and tends to be overshadowed when the reviews are finally published. The thing is, as is often the case, once this one is given the opportunity to shine on its own, it impresses. We have been tasting Hansel wines for a long time and this is certainly among the most appealing. Fresh, lively and at the same time tender and seamless, this is what Pinot Noir is all about.

Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perotti-Brown gives a good assessment of the wine, “Pale ruby-purple colored, the 2016 Pinot Noir Estate has amazingly pure notions of crushed cranberries, Bing cherries and redcurrants with touches of garrigue, tilled soil and bay leaves. Medium to full-bodied, it delivers bags of crunchy red berry flavors and a lovely satiny texture with a very long, lively finish…91 points.”

But we know people, too, and among the individual estate designates, which score as high as 95 points, this one is less likely to get its due. We think the performance here merits a point or two higher. More important than numbers, this is a fantastic performer in the glass winning on all fronts, purity, complexity, palate feel and personality. Less than 900 cases were produced. For Pinot drinkers, this is a must. For our part, we have made the access price a bit more attractive with one of our special ‘click-through’ price deals.