Another month, another set of wines. Lots of California focus this month, including one of the best Pinot’s I have had in years (see the Copain below). The 2008 Pisoni Pinot below also is fantastic, one of the best from the Central Coast I have had. The Wind Gap Chardonnay below deserves special mention as I remain tired of most California based Chardonnay’s, but this one rises to the level of being outstanding and fun to drink. ‘God Only Knows’ why Cayuse is always so good, but the string of fantastic wines from them continues. You owe it to yourselves to get on the mail lists of the wineries above as in most cases it is the only way to ultimately get these wines, certainly the only way at a decent price.
Lastly, it is always worth calling out some half-way reasonable QPR’s (quality to price ratio). The 2009 Château Teyssier St. Émilion is under $25, and provides a very good Bordeaux experience from a great vintage at a fraction of the cost of the more famous estates. Also, the 2009 Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato is well worth tracking down — $30 is not cheap for this type of wine, but is money well spent for a fantastic wine that would go great with scores of special italian meals you could dream up.
You can search for these wines and others at Wine-Searcher.
2009 Copain Pinot Noir “En Haut” Kiser (USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley): Wow! This is probably the best U.S. made Pinot I have had in a few years. Wonderfully complex, with the possibility of a few years more adding to that. Nice red fruit (lots of cranberry and pomegranate), floral notes, earthy spice and minerality. Acidity was wonderful. We often say of ‘big’ CA Pinot’s that they hide their high alcohol well (or not) — this one has nothing to hide. At 13.4%, it is perfectly balanced, allowing flavors and aromas to dominate. Just as good on day 2. Bravo, a wonderful wine that I will be seeking more of. Wine Advocate gave this a 94, View from the Cellar a 93-94 and IWC a 93. I give it a 95 and a huge recommendation, even at the $70 release price. Simply damn good California Pinot that can stand up next to any Pinot from around the world.
2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Estate (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands): This is a great bottle of wine. Big, dark purple, with oodles of black fruit wafting from the glass, with nice floral and spice elements adding complexity. Needs a couple years to come together, at which point this should be one beautiful expression of Santa Lucia Pinot. Right now, it is a bit primary with fruit that demands your attention, but a couple years for some of the other traits to become better integrated with a bit less clobbering fruit, and this should be fantastic. Been having Pisoni’s for over a half decade now, this one is the best. Wine Advocate gives this a 98, IWC a 90. I give it a 93+ with upside potential. At the $65 release price highly recommended, though it would now cost you $175 or so to pick one up on the secondary market.
1999 Castelgiocondo (Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Ripe al Convento (Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino): Fantastic nose of flowers, chocolate, cherries and cinnamon, most of which carries through to the palate with good acidity and mostly resolved tannins. I do not think this has an any improvement left, and if fact would say to start drinking up. In any case, the nose is phenomenal, the palate and finish good, but not up to the nose. Wine Spectator gave this a 97, Wine Library TV a 96. I would go 92. Probably would cost you about $100 on the secondary market. At that price, I would pass, despite the great nose.
2008 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley): From one of my favorite Washington producers, this Grenache was lots of fun. Tons of dark fruit with just as much spice, a bit of funk on the nose, and perhaps even some garrigue. Maybe, just maybe, a bit disjointed yet, should improve a bit for a year or two, but no sin in drinking this now. Wine Advocate gives this a 97, IWC a 93 and Rhone Report a 94. I would go 92+. Release price is $70, but sells out to the mail list, and the price on the secondary market usually is about twice the release price.
2009 Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT (Italy, Sicily, Sicilia IGT): A nice fresh wine with a lot of vibrancy giving backbone to its tart red fruit. Nice minerality, floral aromas and some earth add to the complexity. At 12.5% alcohol, great to drink, and the acidity makes it very food friendly. At $30, a fantastic bottle of wine. I would give this a 92. Recommended.
2009 Wind Gap Wines Chardonnay Woodruff Vineyard (USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains): This was bigger and more new world then I would have expected from a cool site…yet, despite not being a fan of that style, this was very good. Lots of buttery oak came through, somewhat full bodied, but nice pear and lemon flavors and good acidity. Probably will improve for another year or two. Good stuff. Wine Advocate gave this a 94, IWC a 93. I give it a 91+. At $48, recommended as an excellent example of California Chardonnay (which in my opinion is hard to find despite the flood of California Chardonnay in the market).
2009 Roar Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands): Needs a bit more time to settle down. Lots of dark red fruit, perhaps some menthol, a bit too much heat at the moment. Nice finish, loads of flavor. Wine Advocate gave this a 94. I would go 90. $55 release price, would only recommend if you were going to hold for a couple years.
2009 Château Teyssier St. Émilion Grand Cru (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru): Mostly Merlot (85%) with some Cabernet Franc (15%). Getting a bit spoiled on very decent, inexpensive Bordeaux of late. Another one well worth the $23 sticker price. Sort of big, dark fruit and tar, but some floral elements and spice give it some interest. Nice finish. A bit too much wood. Young, could develop into a bit more. Wine Advocate gave this a 92, I would go 88. Recommended as a very good St. Emillion at a decent price, from a great vintage.
2009 Epoch Estate Wines Ingenuity Paderewski Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): A red blend of 65% Syrah, 12% Petite Sirah, 12% Mourvedre, 7% Grenache and 4% Zinfandel. Rocket fuel. A huge wine. Black, lots of dark fruit and some pepper, very ripe. Did I mention BIG? In fairness, it dances pretty well for its size, but I cannot imagine pairing this with food. Wine Advocate gave this a 93-95, Wine Spectator a 92, IWC a 93 and Rhone Report a 95. I will be the contrarian and go 88, though if you like big wines this one tastes great. At $65, hard for me to recommend though.
2007 Chasseur Pinot Noir Umino Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley): Lots of dark berries, a bit too big for me, though nice purity. Probably hurt by me having some high expectations here. Certainly nice tasting and fun to drink, but lacking some complexity and I do not think time will be kind here. Wine Advocate gave this a 92, IWC a 92 and Wine Spectator an 89. I would go 87. At $54, I would pass.