Darms Lane – 94 Point Cabernet Sauvignon

Darms Lane

This estate grown property was established as a Chardonnay vineyard about 30 years by the Crichton Hall winery. When the winery was sold, the new owners realized the Chardonnay in this part of Napa did not make any sense and replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon which made a lot more sense. The vines have gained a lot more maturity and have started showing of their true identity of this estate.

Darms Lane Darms Lane Cabernet 08 “Bon Passe” Napa Valley 94 Points
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 57.50 – FREE SHIPPING ON 6
Use coupon code Darms08CS6 when checking out.

This is the fourth release of this 100% estate grown, hand-crafted, small production Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is located in the southwestern bench lands of Napa Valley, in the Oak Knoll appellation. The vineyard is comprised of both hillsides and valley floor, with varying soil types. We focus heavily on our farming and believe that great wines begin in the vineyard. The 2008 Bon Passe Cabernet exhibits an expansive nose of blackberries and ripe cherries that follow through on the palate. In the mouth the wine is rich and velvety – the tannins are smooth. Layers of pure fruit, mocha and a subtle minerality keep unfolding to an elegant finish. This wine has the flavors and suppleness to be enjoyed on its own while maintaining an elegance that will complement many foods.

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Sine Qua Non at a fraction the price!

Dragonette Cellars

Two brothers (John and Steve Dragonette) teamed up with good buddy Brandon Sparks-Gillis to pursue their live-long dream to make wine.  They gained valuable experiences at wineries like Sine Qua Non, Torbreck, Fiddlehead Cellars before they started this awesome venture.  Over the past couple of years the press has been (rightfully so) generous to these three great guys.  They are sourcing from some of the most sought after vineyards in Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez.

Dragonette 2010 Pinot Noir “Fiddlestix” Santa Rita Hills
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 53.99

The famed Fiddlestix vineyard performed terrifically in the 2010 vintage.  This vineyard is the source for many great wineries, such as Paul Lato, etc.  Compared to the 2009 this wine is more vivacious and exuberant early on, showing lots of rich fruit flavors.  On the nose, the wine shows classic Fiddlestix red fruits (cranberry, raspberry and candied cherry) with spice cake, a touch of cocoa and some minty herbal notes from the whole clusters. The palate is medium to full bodied, but never heavy, as classic Santa Rita Hills black cherry, hints of cola and baking spices envelope ripe and refreshing acidity, and solid balancing tannic structure.

Dragonette 2010 GSM Santa Barbara
Retail 42.00 – GGWC 39.99

This wine is a blend (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre) of top sites in Santa Barbara County: Thomson, Watch Hill and McGinley. All hand sorted the fruit in cool early morning picks.  Aromas of dusty plum, black cherry, blueberries, cocoa and mint mingle with hints of leather and tar. On the palate, the wine features broad, mouth-coating fruit flavors of dried cherry, kirsch and sweet dried herbs, richly textured, with present, yet velvety smooth tannins that provide structure for a long finish.

Dragonette 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez
Retail 28.00 – GGWC 23.99

As with the 2009, this is s a blend of grapes from Vogelzang, Grassini and Refugio Ranch, fermented and aged on its lees in 40% barrel and 60% stainless steel tanks.  Aromas of pear, mango, clementine, melon, cantaloupe and lemon mingle with gentle herbs, wet stones and crushed seashells. On the palate, the wine is crisp and refreshing, with grapefruit, citrus, white peach, mango, fresh cut pineapple, floral notes and a sensation of liquid minerals which build with air. The wine is medium bodied, turning gently creamy on the long finish, which features a distinctive minerality and citrus-tinged acidity.

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Coho spawns again, its BEST ever release look for 95+ Points!

Coho

I just tasted the NEW releases of Coho with owner Gary Lipp, and was blown away by the amazing quality of these youngsters.  Those of you coming to my New York tasting will get to meet the brain behind this great venture, and of course taste these wine. The production numbers are still low, so I suggest you jump on this before the press does.

CohoCOHO 09 SUMMITVINE RANCH CABERNET, DIAMOND MOUNTAIN NAPA
RETAIL 62.00 – GGWC 52.99
FREE SHIPPING ON 12 OR MORE! (Can mix and match with other Coho)

This might is the best efforts from our friends at Coho. I loved the 2007 vintage, but this one (2009) is more refined. The aromatics are more intense, the flavors are more profound.  At impact this mountain-grown Cabernet shows bright black-stone fruit with hints of cassis and a whiff of minerality (they call this “terroir” in wine lingo). On the palate, this full-bodied youngster demonstrates bull-like intensity, yet ballerina-like elegance. Loaded with complex and luscious fruit that dance over the palate into a long-lasting, complex but velvety finish. This year’s blend consists out of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot all from the SummitVine Ranch high up Diamond Mountain (well above Diamond Creek). On that note, this wine retails at 1/3 of Diamond Creek and I would say offers a much better quality/price ratio.

CohoCOHO 2009 MERLOT “MICHAEL BLACK” NAPA VALLEY
RETAIL 60.00 – GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or MORE! (Can mix and match with other Coho)

This might be the best Merlot Coho has produced yet to date.  A blend of 98% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the great Michael Black vineyard in Coombsville (which is now officially an Appellation).   On the nose this wine shows of its great character immediately.  One is greeted by lush black and red currants, hints of coffee and a touch of anise.  The palate of this multi-layered wine is amazingly polished and well-balanced.  Gobs of black currant and chocolate coat this intense sultry body, leading into a very complex and long fish.  This incredible undertaking of 300 cases will turn lots of heads!

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Here’s the real Story…

Herman Story Wines

Herman Story is the “story” of tall tales, Wrangler Jeans, and bold wines crafted by Russell P. From. This winery has become a real head-turner since it was created just a decade ago. Russell is a real “Rhone Ranger” and that has not escaped the notice of numerous publications. Herman Story regularly scores 93 – 95 points form Parker and Spectator and has an amazing “cult” following with thousands of people trying to get on his mailing list. The 2012 Spring releases are spectacular but very limited!!

Herman Story 2010 “Nuts And Bolts” Syrah -  95 Points
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 47.50 FREE SHIPPING on six!
Use coupon code Herman10NB6 during check out.

Russel FromYou know that old saying about the blind men and the elephant? About how one guy is touching the trunk of the elephant and thinks it’s a snake and the other guy is touching a leg and thinks it’s a tree? But because neither of them can “see” the whole animal they don’t know what it is? Well Nuts & Bolts always reminds me of that. There’s something about taking little pieces of a lot of different vineyards from Santa Barbara County to Paso Robles, that tells you more about the vintage in an instant than any single vineyard wine could. Nuts & Bolts is kind of like being able to see the whole elephant in that way, and this year is no different. The 2010 Nuts & Bolts has the intensity and intrigue I think 2010 will be known for. It smells like a high-class picnic in a redwood forest: smoked ribs, red velvet cake, chocolate covered cherries, cologne, caraway, violets and olive. The palate takes you on a hike deep into the forest, with juniper berries, black tea, red licorice and rich tannins that hit you like a bear attack.

Herman Story 2010 Tomboy Santa Barbara  – 94 Points
Retail 50.00 – GGWC 45.00 FREE SHIPPING on six!
Use coupon code Herman10TB6 during check out.

The 2010 Tomboy (79% Viognier, 29% Roussanne sourced from the Larner and Camp 4 vineyards) is that really amazing day or two that you spent with your friend’s friend who was passing through town. Your friend was too busy to entertain, so he passed her into your care for the weekend. She was from a big city, savvy and exciting, but with an infectious laugh that put you at ease.  The two of you hit it off, but she moved on and you never saw her again. The 2010 Tomboy is how you remember those few short days. Scents of pretty white flowers, lemon verbena, cinnamon, clementines, wet sidewalks and pink peppercorns. The palate has all the richness of those warm summer evenings and the subtleties of white tea, almond oil, laurel leaves and a cool, quartz-like minerality. Truly a wine to bring you back. (DRINK NOW: 1-2 hour decant, CELLAR: 5 years)

Herman Story 2010  “On The Road” 100% Grenache -  94 Points
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 47.50 FREE SHIPPING on six!
Use coupon code Herman10otr6 during check out.

More than any other varietal I work with Grenache reminds me of myself. It can be elegant and refined, or just as easily it can be a raucous party animal. Some people try to make it one or the other, but I think it’s best when you can get it to have a little of each. This year’s On the Road is just that, it’s got class and will doff its cap for the ladies, but won’t hesitate to start a brawl if needed. The wine’s got some serious muscle under that tucked in cowboy shirt. Smells like a fourth of July party by the pool: raspberry sorbet, fresh orange zest, licorice, fresh rubber rafts, chocolate brownie batter and vanilla whipped cream. On the palate the 2010 On the Road does a cannonball off the high dive, bringing an explosion of brambly blackberry, pomegranate, oiled leather, cherry cola and charcoal briquettes all with teeth staining color, it’ll leave you soaked and smiling.

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A real Blue Chip wine from Oracle’s founder.

Oakville RanchRobert Miner was one of the original founders of Oracle some moons ago.  Robert was actually Larry Ellison’s manager at a previous company.  They jointly created Oracle, but he was the “key” engineer and a master of people skills!  I had the chance to meet him several times before his untimely passing at the age of 52, about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us but his legacy lives on at Oakville Ranch, which he created with his wife Mary in 1989.  The “Grand Daddy” of the Estate is always the great Robert’s Blend, sourced from the very best parcels of the vineyard next door to Dalla Valle.

Oakville Ranch 2007 Robert's BlendOakville Ranch 2007 Robert’s Blend Robert Parker 93 Points
Retail 69.99 – GGWC 64.99 with FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
!
Use the discount code “oakvillerobert6″ during checkout for free shipping.

Sourced 100% from the best parcels of the estate, this blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is the blue chip of the vineyard.  Only 132 cases were produced.  This wine throws a real punch right out of the glass.  Gobs of ripe blue and black berry flavors gush out of the glass followed by gorgeous aromas and flavors of figs, anise and a touch of espresso.  This full-bodied blend is rich, yet elegant – intense, yet smooth.  The aromas and flavors are nicely in-sync and lead into an amazingly long and silky finish.

“Given the reputation of the two vintages, there is not as much difference between the 2008 and 2007 Robert’s Blend as one might suspect. The 2007′s more youthful dense purple color is followed by notes of blueberries, graphite, burning embers and a hint of volcanic soils. Much like its younger sibling, it is a full-bodied, opulent effort with slightly lower alcohol. Rich and full, this is a super effort from an under-the-radar winery that merits more attention. Drink it over the next decade.”
Also check out these new releases from Oakville Ranch:

Oakville Ranch 2009 ChardonnayOakville Ranch 2009 Estate Chardonnay
Retail 40.00 – GGWC 36.99 with FREE SHIPPING on six or more!
Use the discount code “oakvillecab6″ during checkout for free shipping.

This is a well-crafted masterpiece will please both collector and average wine lover alike, as this artwork is very well-priced!  Sourced from their prime block it offers pleasant aromas of pears, peaches, baked apples and fresh cream on the nose.  On the palate, this well-balanced, full-bodied Chardonnay showcases rich and supple fruit that is well-expressed and balanced alongside some lively acidity.   This is like a song in the glass!  Only 178 cases produced!

Oakville Ranch 2009 Estate Cabernet SauvignonOakville Ranch 09 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Retail 62.00 – GGWC  54.99 FREE SHIPPING on six or more!
Use the discount code “oakvillechar6″ during checkout for free shipping.

Sourced from three prime areas on the estate (57% Plateau, 28% Summit and 15% Terrace), this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon will wow you immediately.  This youngster offers classic, rich black stone fruit, some typical Oakville “dust”.  This multi-layered densely concentrated mountainous wine is stacked with cassis and raspberries that are extremely bold, yet clean and silky on the mid-palate with a touch of fresh roses, cedar and freshly roasted coffee beans leading into an amazingly complex, long lasting finish.  300 cases produced.

The winemaker says: “This is wine worship at its most elemental, with no artifice between you and the glass.  This is red dust on your shoes, indescribable views, smoke and violets on the tongue, a glad heart.  Listen, savor and enjoy!”

92 Points Robert Parker: “The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon bursts from the glass with dark fruit, spices, new leather, licorice and grilled herbs. It shows terrific energy and focus all the way through to the powerful, incisive finish. Sweet flowers and spices add further nuances of complexity. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2024.”

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Alta Colina beats $300 wine in blind tasting!

Alta Colina Wines

Bob and Lynn TillmanSince the 1970’s, Bob Tillman has looked for the site where he could plant a world-class vineyard. He didn’t find that property until he moved to the Central Coast of California and tasted Paso Robles wines. Finally, he and his wife Lynn knew they were in the place where they could produce the kind of wines they love to drink.  In early 2000 they located this awesome hilltop property and the rest as they say is history!  We have had a few vintages and had great success among our customers.  I can tell you that the 2009 vintage will outperform the 2008 vintage, but the production is very small, so hurry!

In a recent blind tasting of Rhone Varietals, Alta Colina proved to be the leader of the pack among some big-name, high-scoring, high-priced wines!  The line-up consisted out of:

  • Booker “Vertigo” 93 Points Parker
  • Booker Alchemist 96 Points Parker
  • Outpost (Thomas Brown winemaker – he also makes Schrader, etal) 92 Points Parker
  • Domaine le Plan Chateauneuf du Pape GT 94 Points Parker
  • Sine Qua Non Upside Down  96 Points Parker ($145.00)
  • Herman Story (93 Points Parker), Araujo 96 Points Parker
  • Carlisle Cardiac Hill (93 Points, Colgin IX Estate ($300.00 – 96 Points Paker)
  • Alban Forsythe (95 Points Parker)
  • The WINNER – Alta Colina 2009 GSM

The wine:

The Alta Colina 2009 GSM, Estate is a Paso Robles take on a Cotes du Rhone. Roasted herbs and dusty, earthy notes as well as lavender and tobacco leaf lend a Provencal character to the aromatics and flavors. The fruit is bold and the wine medium to full-bodied, round, and generous. A year in the bottle has produced an incredibly luscious mouthfeel and an explosive fruitiness. This wine is a blend of 34% Grenache, 33% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre. Only 334 cases produced.

RETAIL 40.00 – GGWC 34.99

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Scarecrow Winemaker turns heads with her latest gem

Keever Vineyards

Keever Vineyards When you put Celia Welch & Jim Barbour on one team, it is like seeing Joe Montana and Jerry Rice connect for some of the best plays (wines) ever. Celia’s portfolio is well-known as is Jim’s so it is not surprise that the latest Keever is probably the best one to date!

Keever 2009 CabernetKeever 2009 Cabernet “Estate” Yountville, Napa Valley

Chocolate-covered cherries, blackberries, baked plums and a hint of sweet mocha waft from the glass of this lovely 100% Cabernet. A touch of vanilla and barrel toast adds complexity to the fruit-centered aromas. On the palate, the texture is broad and creamy at entry, with a fresh fruit character dominating the mid-palate and finish. The finish fades to a lasting impression of fresh berry and vanilla flavors wrapped around a creamy, polished texture.

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Screaming Eagle Winemaker pulls one out of his hat at 1/20th the price!

Dancing Hares

Andy Erickson Andy Erickson does not need an introduction, the man worked with John Kongsgaard, Paul Hobbs, Bob Levy at Harlan Estate, Staglin, etc.  He currently makes Arietta, Ovid, Dalla Valle and of course his own labels Leviathan and Favia.  The Dancing Hares wines have been on fire as of late and this latest release is yet another gem in the rough.

Dancing Hares 2009 Mad HatterDancing Hares 2009 Mad Hatter

The 2009 vintage was a long, mild growing season which delivered fruit with bright acidity, relatively low potential alcohol, dark color, and expressive aromatics.  As the year was relatively cool for Napa Valley standards, Merlot performed particularly well.  For the 2009 Mad Hatter, Andy blended (27% Cabernet, 59% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot to create a wine that is soft, rich and generous.  Cabernet Sauvignon adds a regal, classic quality to the wine, while smaller percentages of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot provide a depth and aromatic complexity that makes the wine even more compelling.  After a short decanting, the wine comes alive, with deep, ripe notes of blackberry, black tea, and forest floor.  On the palate, a solid tannic framework supports the rich fruit flavors, accompanied by subtle notes of gravel and minerals.  This wine will easily age for a decade or more, but should probably be consumed now, in its youth, to enjoy all of the bright, fresh fruit character it shows now.

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Rocket Scientist blasts wine into orbit!

Brian Loring Brian Loring is a rocket scientist turned winemaker, and he told me that he does not regret the move one bit!  He told me years ago, that one day (he was 40) he was called “pops” by the younger generation and that was his queue to leave and follow this true passion – winemaking!  He had been a home winemaker for years, and it was an easy transition.  The rest is history… As are some great scores from the various publications!
Loring’s wines are full-bodied, but very spicy, and sure to delight your palate.
On the nose this youngster greets you with sweet red cherries, hints of spring flower perfume and a touch of sweet vanilla.  On the palate this full bodied Pinot showcases gorgeous sweet red cherries and well-balanced acidity with a touch of sweet spice.  This wine’s finish lasts a good 20 seconds.  This wine could benefit from some time, although decanting for 90 minutes should offer complete satisfaction. This wine received a 94 Points from former Wine Spectator guru James Suckling.
Only 200 cases of this amazing Pinot were produced.  On the nose this wine reminds me a little of Syrah (bold and intense), but it showcases gorgeous plum and black cherry fruit with a touch of anise and minerality.  On the palate you’ll encounter gobs of black stone fruit with a touch of vanilla spice and a whiff or earthy minerality.  Well-balanced, this youngster shows great character and ageing potential.  I would suggest that you allow this wine to breathe a good 90 – 120 minutes for immediate enjoyment.
Small amounts of Loring 2010 Rosella (94 Points WS) and 2010 Garys (92 Points WS) are still in stock.
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Howell Mountain GEM does it again!

Cornerstone CellarsCornerstone seems to have turned another corner in its long history. Created some 20 years ago, this winery has had some amazing winemakers along the way, Bruce Scotland, Celia Welch (Scarecrow, Corra, etc.) and now Jeff Keene. The philosophy has not changed, continue to make first-rate, handcrafted wines! I can see that this latest release is just that, a first-rate, stunning wine!

Cornerstone 2007 Howell Mountain CabernetCornerstone 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was grown on the east-facing slopes of Ink Grade Block, Howell Mountain, a large peak on the Eastern edge of Napa Valley. At a high elevation (1800 to 2000 feet) where volcanic soils create great growing conditions for tiny berries full of flavor.

This classic from the great 2007 vintage really wowed me. A growing year so perfect it’s one of those vintages that, as they say, if you can’t make great wine in this year you never will.  On the nose this gem greets you with sweet black stone fruit, a touch of espresso and chocolate. On the palate, this powerful, yet silky smooth this wine offers more quality fruit and high-end chocolate flavors that are well-balanced. This will age into greatness, but can be enjoyed now with full flavored dishes like steaks and chops. Decanting for an hour or more will bring out the best in this great wine.

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