Tag Archives: pinot noir

Maltroye Madness: Jean-Pierre’s Are 2011’s Best White Burgs, 93-95RAS!

The 2011 vintage was tough for some Burgundians. But not for the precise and eccentric Jean-Pierre Courmot and his beautiful plots in Chassagne-Montrachet. Jean-Pierre’s pinot noirs are pure and vivid with energy at every level and his 1er cru whites are the best I’ve tasted in this vintage – the best since 1989. Just stunning, among the great chardonnays of Burgundy. I love the rich and ripe Santenay (93RAS) and the dense La Romanee (95RAS) oughta be Grand Cru. Not easy for everyone get to in to see Jean Pierre. But I was an early member of the cult dealing with JP’s dad and every year I get inside the iron gate. The high-vaulted cellars are a gallery of bold modern art; the “backyard” is a treasure of a vineyard sloping down from the castle. Jean-Pierre’s jetset style makes him the Keith Richards of the Cote de Beaune, so we get along fine and I come home with a great supply. Maybe you can always get what you want, but you better hurry.

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge, Cote de Beaune
2011 Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge
Fresh, vivid pinot noir with great balance. Excellent effort by Jean-Pierre.
89+ points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Blanc, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc
Solid village wine that exceeds that of just about every neighbor.
89 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Rouge, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge
Cranberry freshness in the Chassagne. Good terrior expression. Taut, berry fresh, and vivid.
91 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru
Very long, vivid, fresh with more drive than Jean-Pierre’s other reds. The clay here comes through adding body and balance….
92 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru, Santenay
2011 Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru
Remarkable Santenay blanc. Been tasting this wine for 20+ years and this may be the best effort. Dense, rich, ripeness and full. Stunning effort for the vintage.
93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 'La Romanee' 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet “La Romanee” 1er Cru
…La Romanee is in the league of Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Pierriere. Great memories of the 1989 made by Jean-Pierre’s father. This is Grand Cru.
95 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Carneros Pinot – Donum is World-Class!

Donum (meaning “gift of the land” in Latin) was created in 2001 when Buena Vista Winery was sold to Allied Domecq… but retained 120 acres of vines that had been meticulously replanted by Anne Moller-Racke, vineyard manager at Buena Vista for 15 years, for a special Pinot noir project she had been working on while at the winery. She took over the winemaking responsibilties and started touting the Carneros region as a premium site for Pinot Noir. The 2010 estate, comprised of the best of 4 different lots, is a tremendous effort considering the challenging vintage so only a limited supply of 589 cases were produced. Anne has been at the forefront of putting Carneros on the map as a serious Pinot Noir producing area and has she ever succeeded!

 

2010 Donum Estate Pinot Noir

…raspberry and black cherry flavors that are ripe and seductive, with spice, loam and sandalwood details. Notes of cassis, raspberry jam and red licorice crescendo on the long finish, with very refined tannins….

Burgundy in South Africa? You Know It!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…a ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello that shows no signs of under-ripeness… The palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins….

92-Point Wine from Caymus: Meiomi Pinot Noir!

Meiomi (pronounced may-OH-mee) means “coast” in the language of the Native American Wappo and Yuki tribes. A benchmark under-$20 fruit-forward California Pinot Noir if ever there was one. With its screw cap and reliably delicious personality, Joe Wagner (son of Charlie, founder of Caymus Vineyards) has found a groove with this bottling that’s been consistent over the last five years. While Caymus specializes in Cabernet only, the Belle Glos winery (a family name) was founded in 2001 and specializes, making only Pinot Noir. Meiomi came about in 2007 to fill the void in quality Pinot at a bargain basement price. The 2011 is its best to date. Full bodied, exuberant and distinctively Pinot in character. The true Wagner family style. Why should we expect less?

 

2011 Meiomi Pinot Noir

Dark and rich, showing toasty mocha oak flavors, with a beam of wild berry, raspberry, cola, vanilla and spice. Long on the finish. Drink now through 2020.

Joseph Swan is Back With 94 Point Classics

In 1967, at the age of 45, Joseph Swan, a retiring airline pilot, bought a run-down Zinfandel vineyard, barn and house in the Russian River Valley. The house had been the general store for the tiny town of Trenton which is no longer in existence. A self-trained winemaker, Joe’s first commercial wine was the 1968 Estate Zinfandel which created a stir for its intensity, balance, and purity. Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame actually used Joe’s vineyards for his first zinfandel. Later these vines were ripped out and on the advice the legendary BV winemaker, André Tchelistcheff, thought this location would be ideal for Burgundian varietals, and Pinot Noir and a little Chardonnay were planted. At that time there were very few Chardonnay or Pinot Noir vines planted in the area. Swan made his first Pinot Noir in 1973 and his first Chardonnay in 1974. From the very beginning the vines produced very low yields and grapes with very high natural acidity.

Joseph Swan, who died in 1988, is quietly considered the “Father of Pinot Noir,” and passed on his vision to his son-in-law Rod Berglund, who was the original owner and winemaker of La Crema Winery before he sold it to Jess Jackson. He continues the tradition Joe promulgated, opposing over-the-top, high extract, high alcohol, over-oaked, “tailgate” wines, still making wines traditionally, very burgundian and age-worthy.

The flagship wine remains the Trenton Estate Pinot Noir. Half of the vineyard replanted in the mid-90s, the youngest vines have now reached maturity enough to utilize the grapes of all of the blocks in the vineyard. Rod describes the character of the vineyard as “spice, earth, and concentrated fruit, with a slight tannic edge that softens with time in the bottle.” A tour de force in the classic pinot style. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Joseph Swan wines in these parts, but thankfully we can bring these classic wines back to let you see what you’ve been missing.

 

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Chardonnay Saralee’s Vineyard

…attaining true complexity is something else…. elaborate, dry and rich in green apple, mango and orange flavors. The acidity is just about perfect, giving the palate a tart zinginess….

 

2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Syrah Great Oak Vineyard

The explosive blackberry, wild berry and raspberry flavors are snappy and vivid, deeply concentrated and sharply focused. Ends with a long, pure, spice- and berry-laced finish. Drink now through 2022….

 

2009 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Pinot Noir Great Oak Vineyard

…smell and taste… Flavors of earth, mushroom, decaying tree bark and pine needle are all present, and the notes of cherry, cola and pomegranate are intense…. fairly tannic, with a crisp edge of acidity….

 

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Pinot Noir Trenton Estate Vineyard

Tannic and tightly wound… Intense notes of raspberry jam, cherry pie, anisette, Dr. Pepper are all present, and a rich, sweet jacket of smoky sandalwood adds further complexity….

 

Burgundy in South Africa? You Know It’s True!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…a ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello that shows no signs of under-ripeness… The palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins..

Grand Cru in Oregon!

96pt Chard & 95pt Pinot Noir from Evening Land

Evening Land Vineyards is a group headed by movie magnate Mark Tarlov that also owns Pinot vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and Santa Rita Hills and is also making wines in Burgundy (Vosne-Romanee, at that). They’ve also gained control of one of the Willamette Valley’s prized property, Seven Springs Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills, always a great place for pinot and chard and it’s better now. Mark created an immediate sensation by signing on Dominique Lafon of Comte Lafon in Burgundy as the consulting winemaker. At last, Burgundian precision in American wine! Chardonnay intensely mineral; pinot seductive and elegant, showing cherry and herb, sexy and almost weightless. Grand Cru character without the steep price. Thrilling wines to please the American cheerleader or the diehard Burgundian. These will give you new hope for homegrown pinot and chardonnay, a new label to seek out, and exquisite quality.

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
Spanish Springs

…gorgeous wine laced with expressive plums, dark red cherries and spices, all supported by clean veins of minerality. This juicy, fruit-forward Pinot needs to be enjoyed… a lovely showing….

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
La Source Seven Springs

…array of vivid flavors on a sleek, airy frame, shading its juicy raspberry and cherry fruit with a streak of wet rock, crushed rose petal and white pepper, all of it put together seamlessly. The finish just doesn’t quit….

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
Red Queen Seven Springs

…Lush, pliant and sweet, offering intense red and dark berry preserve flavors and notes of sassafras and star anise. A subtle vanilla note carries through the long, penetrating finish, which shows no rough edges….

 

 
2010 Evening Land Chardonnay
Summum Seven Springs

Light, racy and aromatic… mineral notes of crushed wet stone before delivering beautifully restrained apple, pineapple and citrus flavors that play against a lean, sinewy frame. The finish doesn’t quit….

 

Burgundy in South Africa? You Better Believe It!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello …palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins… the finish is exuberant, almost feisty!…

Another 92 Pointer Wine from Caymus (ho-hum)… Meiomi Pinot Noir!

Meiomi (pronounced may-OH-mee) means “coast” in the language of the Native American Wappo and Yuki tribes. A benchmark under-$20 fruit-forward California Pinot Noir if ever there was one. With its screw cap and reliably delicious personality, Joe Wagner (son of Charlie, founder of Caymus Vineyards) has found a groove with this bottling that’s been consistent over the last five years. While Caymus specializes in Cabernet only, the Belle Glos winery (a family name) was founded in 2001 and specializes, making only Pinot Noir. Meiomi came about in 2007 to fill the void in quality Pinot at a bargain basement price. The 2011 is its best to date. Full bodied, exuberant and distinctively Pinot in character. The true Wagner family style. Why should we expect less?

 

2011 Meiomi Pinot Noir

Dark and rich, showing toasty mocha oak flavors, with a beam of wild berry, raspberry, cola, vanilla and spice. Long on the finish. Drink now through 2020.

World’s Greatest Value Pinot Dressed to the Nine

Mike O’Connell, the founder of Grayson Cellars, started Block Nine in response to changes in the Pinot Noir market. Demand for moderately priced Pinot Noir has spiked over the last few years. Large, mass marketed brands brought most of the Pinot to the market leaving consumers with few choices of smaller production Pinot Noir from California. Robert Parker has been a quiet advocate of this wine, stating, “This is a remarkable operation producing relatively large quantities of Pinot Noir that offer sensational value. Making Pinot Noir is akin to having a license to overcharge given the outrageously expensive Burgundies and the fact that most top California and Oregon Pinot Noirs are priced in the $40-$50+ range.” Crafted by 30-year veteran winemaker Larry Levin, who lists on his resume 17 years at Dry Creek Vineyards and 9 years as head winemaker at Icon Estates which included Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Robert Mondavi, and Quintessa… before arriving at Grayson. This is Block Nine’s focus. They make only Pinot Noir.

 

2011 Block Nine Pinot Noir
Caiden’s Vineyards

An amazing effort, the 2011 Pinot Noir Block 9… exhibits aromas of plums, underbrush, forest floor and sweet cherries in its medium-bodied, fresh, lively personality. It possesses surprising texture and length.

2010 Clos de Tart Now In Stock!

Last time I saw Sylvain Pitiot was in the cellar at Clos de Tart. He invited me to taste the components of the 2010 vintage before he made the final blend. Wow, he had beautiful stuff to work with, deep dark fruit from a cool, complex year. Crop was down 25 percent, but what’s left is gorgeous. The clos is a famous monople, but it’s not a monolith. Pitiot divided the small grand cru vineyard into seven separate microclimates and has always fermented each on its own. He comes by that precision and patience naturally, cartography is his first trade. The ultimate wine is his decision and a brilliant one according to those who’ve tasted since my visit (I’ve attached the full report from Clos de Tart below). From a year of little berries and small clusters, Pitiot squeezed out perfect ripeness, big perfume and exotic fruit. Rich and intense, yet production is small, so small that the second wine, Forge de Tart, was not produced in 2010. This is a Clos de Tart vintage Burgundy lovers will have to have, with Parker and Tanzer giving big scores. Make sure to get you some!

Vintage Report from director of Clos de Tart

 

2010 Clos de Tart

…Layers of deep, dark fruit nearly jump from the glass… Crushed flowers, violets and spices develop over time… The tannins are very firm, but there appears to be more than enough fruit to provide balance…

Hot off the Press: 95WA Pinot Noir

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits have kept coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello… palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins. …the finish is exuberant, almost feisty!…

World’s Greatest Wine Value: Pinot Noir Dressed to the Nine

Mike O’Connell, the founder of Grayson Cellars, started Block Nine in response to changes in the Pinot Noir market. Demand for moderately priced Pinot Noir has spiked over the last few years. Large, mass marketed brands brought most of the Pinot to the market leaving consumers with few choices of smaller production Pinot Noir from California. Robert Parker has been a quiet advocate of this wine, stating, “This is a remarkable operation producing relatively large quantities of Pinot Noir that offer sensational value. Making Pinot Noir is akin to having a license to overcharge given the outrageously expensive Burgundies and the fact that most top California and Oregon Pinot Noirs are priced in the $40-$50+ range.” Crafted by 30-year veteran winemaker Larry Levin, who lists on his resume 17 years at Dry Creek Vineyards and 9 years as head winemaker at Icon Estates which included Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Robert Mondavi, and Quintessa… before arriving at Grayson. This is Block Nine’s focus. They make only Pinot Noir.

 

2011 Block 9 Pinot Noir Caiden’s

An amazing effort, the 2011 Pinot Noir Block 9… exhibits aromas of plums, underbrush, forest floor and sweet cherries in its medium-bodied, fresh, lively personality. It possesses surprising texture and length.

Hail Comte de Vogue: The Nobility of ’10 Musigny

When I was in these vineyards during September’s late harvest high above Musigny and Morey St. Denis below, I had the feeling I always get that this is hallowed ground. This could be the finest place for Pinot Noir in the world. Grand Cru and 1er Cru everywhere you look, and it’s been so for centuries. The same holds true for the family of Comte Georges de Vogue. They’ve been here for 500 some odd years, and are now in the 20th generation (and I think the B-21 family has a long family history!). What I like most about Comte de Vogue is that they are not stodgy or stuck on any specific regimen, they treat every year as precious and adjust for each vintage as it is. According to the domaine’s director, Jean-Luc Pepin, the 2010 crop may be one of the most special yet.

 

2010 Comte Georges de Vogue
Chambolle-Musigny
…fantastic. It boasts incredible aromatic complexity, gorgeous textural finesse and seemingly endless layers of fruit. Suave yet firm tannins support the fruit through to the highly attractive, delineated finish….
2010 Comte Georges de Vogue
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
…opens with an explosive bouquet laced with dark red fruit, mint, flowers and graphite. Cool, mineral notes are woven throughout… A final blast of plums and black cherries informs the powerful, structured finish….
2010 Comte Georges de Vogue
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
…captivating from the very first taste. Black cherries, plums, smoke, graphite, licorice, menthol and tar burst from the glass… stunning richness allied to powerful tannins in a full-bodied style… simply dazzling….
2010 Comte Georges de Vogue
Musigny Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru

…incredibly long and silky on the palate. Saline notes add urgency and vibrancy to the expressive red fruit… Today the 2010 is all about textural finesse, and there is no shortage of that in the glass….