Wine of the Week: Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010

Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010:  Light ruby robe.  Drawing from two of the finest vineyards in the Petaluma Gap (Gap’s Crown on the western edge of Sonoma Mountain, and the wind-blown Griffin’s Lair Vineyard located two miles north of San Pablo Bay), the 2010 Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is an enchanting old-school Pinot.  Fragrant notes of freshly turned soil, black and red berries, lavender spice, and a hint of the ”merde” that you sometimes get in Burgundies from more soil-driven vintages (1993, 1998, and 2001 come to mind).  On the midpalate, the flavors have an attractive umami character, with notes of bread yeast, sous bois, Ceylon cinnamon, and red fruits.  There is considerably more earth than fruit on the dry finish.  Medium-bodied, with excellent balance.  Winemaker Pax Mahle used approximately 40% whole-cluster for this wine, but all the grapes were were crushed by foot. 13% alc.  $36  Drink now-2017.  (92)

One To Watch: Domaine des Beaumont


Domaine des Beaumont is located in Morey St. Denis, not far from Maison Frederic Magnien.  For generations, the Beaumont family sold their grapes to Laboure-Roi, but now Thierry Beaumont is bottling the wines and releasing them under his own label.  These wines are fashioned in a soil-driven style, and offer solid value.  Particularly compelling is the Charmes-Chambertin, but all of the wines are delicious now and will age effortlessly.   

Domaine des Beaumont Charmes-Chambertin 2008:  Dripping with purity, the glorious 2008 Charmes-Chambertin is a magnificent example of the magic that can happen when winemakers farm their sites well, and then let the wine speak of its terroir instead of new oak.  A dazzling array of sous bois, black earth, rock shavings, and spicy black berries build in fragrance and flavor with time in the glass.  The intensity of fruit flavor is managed by round tannins that are firm but kept in check.  Though only medium-bodied, the concentration of flavors makes the wine seem much fuller.  The most exciting Charmes-Chambertin I’ve had in years.  Beginning with the 2008 vintage, this is a producer with whom every Burgundy collector should become acquainted.  Drink now-2025.  (95+ points) 

Domaine des Beaumont Chambolle Musigny Les Chardannes 2008:  Violet ruby.  Showcasing the intensity of small-clustered Pinor Noir, this Chambolle exhibits vivid aromas and flavors of black and red berries, freshly turned soil, and toasted sesame seeds.  A tasty saline note on the back end adds complexity.  Drink now-2016.  (90+ points)

Domaine des Beaumont Morey St. Denis Clos Sorbes 2008:  Featuring a ruby hue, the Morey St. Denis Clos Sorbes offers sappy, dark Pinot fruit flavors.  With aeration, the wine becomes richer, seemingly growing in body, but manages to maintain its Pinot purity.  Drink now-2017.  (90+ pts).

Domaine des Beaumont Morey St. Denis Les Ruchots 2008:  Stepping it up a notch is the Les Ruchots 2008, which possesses a stimulating bouquet of ripe black cherries, black gum drops, and fresh cream framed by notes of crushed rocks and dark soil.  On the palate, the fleshy fruit and mineral notes are counterbalanced by a layer of tannins and noticeable acidity.  The finish is particularly nuanced and delicate.  A spectacular bottling that should age well.  Drink now-2010.   (91+ points)

Domaine Marengo Muscat du Cap Corse No. 655 2007


Domaine Marengo Muscat du Cap Corse No. 655 2007:  Shimmering white-yellow.  Attractive aromas and flavors of honey, orange marmalade, ripe apricot, almonds, and white pepper.  The texture is round and viscous.  This delicious, fortified dessert wine comes from a small vineyard in the Patrimonio region of Corsica.  $35.  15.6% alc.  Drink now-2020. (91 points)

Alvaro Castro Outeiro Red Dao 2009


Alvaro Castro Outeiro Red Dao 2009:  From a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Alfrocheiro, and 20% Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo), the Outeiro Red has an electric ruby color, and displays a lovely, musky perfume of cigar, mushrooms, black and red plums, and dried potpurri.  In the mouth, the wine shows its complexity, with tangy red plum flavors followed by notes of black raspberries, walnuts, molasses, and a dash of licorice, which turn juicy on the backend.  Outstanding and versatile food wine, try this with chorizo, ribs, and grilled meats.  $12.  13% alc.  Drink now-2015.  (91 points)

Domaine Giachino Abymes Monfarina Savoie 2010


Domaine Giachino Abymes Monfarina Savoie 2010:  Nicknamed “mountain Muscadet” by importer Eric Solomon, the 2010 Abymes is 100% Jacquere planted on organically farmed limestone soils that are riddled with sand.  Sparkles with a glassy sheen of brilliant white gold, and showcases piercing acidity with flavors that call to mind lime, oyster shells, and hard cheese rind.  Perhaps slightly oxidative in style, this is a serious, mouthwatering white that will pair well with most cow’s milk cheeses, oysters and other shellfish.  11% alc.  $16.  Drink now-2015.  (88 points)

Domaine Abbatucci Ajaccio Cuvee Faustine Rouge 2009


Abbatucci Ajaccio Rouge Cuvée Faustine 2009:  Very light ruby.  Fresh, airy aromas of juniper berries, sour cherries, and red plum skin are complemented by a fragrant herbal note of maquis (the local herb/brush that is essentially the Corsican analogue to Provence’s garrigue).  On the palate, the wine displays substantial tannins that are not dissimilar to a Nebbiolo, but which are submerged in a pot of high-toned black plums, rose petals, tar, and black pepper. From the Sciaccarellu grape.  13% alc.  $36.  Drink now-2020.  (92+ points)

Wine of the Week: Abbatucci Ajaccio Blanc Cuvee Faustine 2010


Abbatucci Ajaccio Blanc Cuvée Faustine 2010:  Nearly colorless, with a gleaming hue of bone-yellow.   Mysterious and unique, this massively proportioned Corsican wine is made from 50-year old Vermintinu (Vermintino) grapevines overlooking the Mediterranean.  The wine begins with a phenolic explosion in the mouth, where the tropical flavors and fine texture attack, coat, and flitter across the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth, before coalescing in the center of the palate in the vinous form of a lit sparkler.  The wine does not go through malolactic fermentation, thus preserving the incredible acidity that centers this full-bodied white.  A pleasant salty minerality and freshness persist on the long finish.  A revelatory white that must be tasted by all serious wine drinkers.  13% alc.  $36.  Drink now-2020.  (92+ points)

Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde 2010


Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde 2010:  Whereas most Vinho Verde wines are comprised of a blend of white grape varietals, Quinto do Ameal only uses the Loureiro grape for this bottling.  The result is a stunning re-definition of Vinho Verde, where a single grape sings in perfect pitch.  Shimmering pale bone in color, with a floral bouquet of lychee, Cape gooseberries, rose petals, and white chocolate.  Exhibits excellent concentration, energy, and cut on the midpalate, with flavors that call to mind roasted grains and white fruits, with a sand-like minerality on the finish.  Farmed to low yields of approximately 2 tons per acre.  This is a great example of a wine that displays immense concentration without high alcohol.  11.5% alc.  $15.  Drink now-2015.  (92 points)