• Nahe Shimmer: 2020 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling

    Nahe Shimmer: 2020 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling

    Emrich-Schönleber joins Keller, Dönnhoff, and Schäfer-Fröhlich as Germany's most noble estates. The Grosses Gewachs (GG) wines come from undisputedly come from "Grand Cru" sites, but within the "villages" category, my obsession continues to be with the "Mineral" bottling, which is among the most reliable and completely dry Rieslings around. Sourced from young vines within Halenberg and Auf der Lay, the value cannot be overstated!

    The Emrich family began growing Riesling on the treacherously steep slopes along the Nahe River in the mid-1700s. In the 1960s, the family began to focus entirely on viticulture and winemaking. Up until then, it was a risky proposition to have their livelihood be at the will of nature so directly. From 1965 to 1985, the estate steadily grew from two to ten hectares.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Queen of Chambolle: 2017 Barthod Aux Beaux Bruns

    Queen of Chambolle: 2017 Barthod Aux Beaux Bruns

    Some producers in Burgundy are especially known for making wines that age at a glacial pace, and Ghislaine Barthod is a perfect example. Chambolle has a high proportion of active limestone that separates it from just about every other village in the Côte d'Or, save for Volnay, resulting in wines with piano string tension.

    I vividly remember Becky Wasserman's 10-year retrospective tasting of the 2002 vintage held at her home in Burgundy in 2012. Top Premier and Grand Cru bottlings filled the tables, but when all was said and done, Barthod's wines held a level of freshness and verve that was in a world of their own. Her eye for transparency and grace put these wines at the top of my wish list!

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Provence White Diamond: 2020 Chateau Roquefort

    Provence White Diamond: 2020 Chateau Roquefort

    Petit Salé from Chateau Roquefort is the best value white wine from Southern France that you're likely to overlook, though I highly encourage you to play it cooler (and less pretentiously) than I did when having it for the first time.

    Unlike Bandol, the brisk, high-altitude setting here cannot fully ripen Mourvèdre, but it's perfect for macerated white wines. A blend of Clairette and Vermentino, Petit Salé builds on ripe, unctuous white peach and briny citrus flavors, finishing with a persistent salty inflection. This microclimate on limestone and clay soils proved to me that a Southern French white can deliver all of the mouth-watering salinity as Chablis and Riesling while still capturing its orchard fruit characteristics.

    Villeneuve returned home in 1995 after spending time producing Burgundy's Grand Cru Clos de Tart for Mommessin. He use both organic and biodynamic farming practices. Also, this is the same distributor behind other small but mighty vignerons who you may have heard of, like Jerome Prevost, Cedric Bouchard, and Soldera.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Santa Cruz Pioneer: 2018 Ridge Estate Cabernet

    Santa Cruz Pioneer: 2018 Ridge Estate Cabernet

    Ridge Vineyards' Monte Bello vineyard atop the Santa Cruz Mountains needs little introduction, but what's still somewhat under the radar is their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, comprised of 15 to 20 parcels from Monte Bello. Lovers of old-school California Cabernet from the coolest, Pacific-influenced terrain, take notice!

    The black fruit, racy mint, and graphite tones in Monte Bello always impress, but it comes at the expense of long bottle aging. The Estate Cabernet has those inherent Monte Bello vineyard characteristics, only showing them through a softer lens. Ridge also stands out from other California Cabernets because of its deft use of American oak. The limestone soils of Monte Bello have long stood up to the new oak regimen (70%), providing more silken texture and elegance without obscuring terroir.

    Monte Bello's history goes as far back as 1885 when the 180 acres were purchased and planted by San Francisco-based doctor Osea Perrone. Surviving prohibition, multiple sales, and re-planting, the Monte Bello estate came into its own when Paul Draper arrived in 1969. Draper's insistence on producing pre-industrial wines has received much attention, and he's challenged other winemakers to list out ingredients on their labels. His end goal is wines that reflect site, relying on native yeast ferments and strictly opposing modern manipulations.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Langhe Smart Buy: 2019 Fratelli Alessandria Prinsiòt

    Langhe Smart Buy: 2019 Fratelli Alessandria Prinsiòt

    “Fratelli Alessandria is one of Piedmont’s under-the-radar jewels.” — Antonio Galloni, Vinous

    Fratelli Alessandria has become a house favorite in no time, and to no surprise, the 2019 "Prinsiòt" Nebbiolo ($30) has me a little more than enthusiastic. In Verduno, locals refer to the soil as Marne di Sant'Agata, a combination of sand, clay, and deep veins of limestone. There's no wonder why this northern commune of Barolo has an extra lift with with snappy acidity and crisp red fruits.

    2019 will likely be one of the best vintages of the decade. With heat spells only in June and July, the rest of the season had good diurnal shifts that have led to my favorite vintages firmly in the classic and traditional realm (2010, 2013, and 2016, for example).We have made many crucial discoveries in Piedmont, but Alessandria stands out among the great value wines, also producing Barbera, Dolcetto, and Pelaverga.

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    Posted by Max Kogod