The Best Wines of 2015! – Top 25

Dear Friends of Golden Gate Wine Cellars,It has been an amazing year of tasting, smelling & swishing wines.  We must have tasted over 2000 wines this year, so to come up with our “own” Top 25 wines that are “the best” is not easy.

My tasting group of 18 wine swishers, wine smellers, wine “evaluators”, friends of Bacchus carefully evaluated the wines and came up with the following list:

1 Paul Lato 2013 Syrah “IL Padrino” Bien Nacido,Santa Barbara 
2 KEPLINGER 2013 SUMO “Shake Ridge Vineyard”
3 Mapson 2012 “Left Lane” Cabernet, Napa Valley
4 BARRETT & BARRETT 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY
5 Post Parade 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
6 Paloma 2012 Merlot Estate Spring Mountain, Napa Valley
7 Paul Lato 2013  Chardonnay “Le Souvenir” Santa Maria Valley
8 DUMOL 2013 “CHLOE” CHARDONNAY, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
9 Spottswoode 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, St. Helena Napa Valley 
10 Milange 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
11 Beau Vigne 2013 “CULT” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
12 Kesner 2013 “Bacigalupi” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
13 Herman Story 2013 Syrah “Sebastiano” Santa Rita Hills
14 Wenzlau 2013 Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Rita Hills
15 Arbe Garbe 2014 Proprietary White Blend – Russian River Valley
16 Hudson 2013 Chardonnay, Carneros Napa Valley
17 Tyler 2013 Pinot Noir La Rinconada Santa Barbara
18  COHO 2012 “C-2″ NAPA VALLEY
19 Walker Station 2013 Chardonnay “Original” Estate, Sonoma Coast
20 Pellet 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena Napa Valley
21 Dragonette 2013 Grenache “John Sebastiano” Santa Rita Hills
22 La Sirena 2012 “Le Barrettage” Napa Valley
23 Hayfork 2012 Cabernet “Llwelling Ranch” Napa Valley
24 LINKED 2011 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, ESTATE, KNIGHT’S VALLEY
25 KEEVER 2013 SAUVIGNON BLANC, NAPA VALLEY

Happy Holidays and Thank you for the support this year!

Frank Melis and the crew at Golden Gate Wine Cellars

PS: UPS IS PICKING UP TODAY, SATURDAY FOR THOSE LATE SHOPPERS!  ORDERS HAVE TO BE IN BY 10 AM PST, NO EXCEPTIONS.

AMAZING Paul Hobbs 4 barrel Chardonnay

Only 97 cases (4 barrels) of this “Original Chardonnay” were produced by ace winemaker Paul Hobbs.  This old Wente Clone, grown in Goldridge clay-sandy soil yields only a few tons per acre, but the fruit is remiscent of a Grand-Cru White Burgundy.  Harry Walker planted his first grapes on this estate in 1968 and named it Walker Station after a little town in Kentucky where he grew up.

Walker Station 2013 Chardonnay “Original” Estate, Sonoma Coast
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 69.99
FREE SHIPPING ON 6+
Use code WALKER upon check out

Sourced from Harry Walker’s “Walker Station” estate this wine offers up amazing aromatics and flavors.  Lively aromas of lemon custard, quince, citrus blossom and peaches jump out of the glass.  The wine is very complex, yet extremely elegant.  Full in body with subtle richness and the right touch of acidity. The wine finishes long with a slight nuttiness.  I’d say enjoy this youngster between 2015-2022.

A 94 Point wine to take on the road!

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 – 96 points from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, and has an amazing “cult” following with thousands of people trying to get on his mailing list. The 2013 vintage Spring releases are spectacular but very limited!   

Herman Story 2013  “On The Road” Grenache – 94 Points! 
Retail 53.00 – GGWC 48.99 ~ FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use coupon code HERMAN during checkout
Can mix and match with other Herman Story Wines!


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 2013 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.

Anthony Galloni 94 Points: “The Herman Story Grenache On the Road is a drop-dead gorgeous beauty. Fresh, vibrant and chiseled, the OTR is laced with bright red cherries, plums, crushed rocks, mint and cinnamon. The flavors are a bit on the dark side for Grenache, but all the elements are in the right place. Sweet floral notes, cinnamon and mint add nuance on the seriously beautiful, vivid finish. The OTR is a great example of winemaker Russell From’s very personal approach”

Make sure to check out the other AMAZING:
HERMAN STORY 2013 “NUTS AND BOLTS” SYRAH – 95 POINTS
HERMAN STORY 2013 “CASUAL ENCOUNTER” GSM

6 Barrel Pinot Sensation

For 3 generations the Holtermann Family has been one of the premier importers of wines, varying from hard-to-find, leading wineries to very large producers from all over the world.  Their longtime relationships with growers, enolgists, winemakers and vineyard managers provided them with a unique perspective of the wine industry. So the next step was panting their own vineyards, which they did in the remote ridge tops of Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast.  Add winemaker Carroll Kemp to the mix and you’ll wind up with great quality estate-grown wines at a great price point!Alma Fria 2013 Pinot Noir Dona Margarita, Sonoma Coast
Retail 64.00 – GGWC 59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code ALMAPN upon checkout

This 6 barrel sensation offers up a very expressive floral and bright fruit aroma with hints of rose petals, bright cherries, violets and mint that jump out of the glass. A well-balanced, well-crafted single vineyard Pinot Noir that has amazing bright red stone fruit and the right touch of acidity that is explosive on the mid-palate with a very appealing fruit purity. Notes of raspberry, cherry, violet and a subtle pepperiness. The wine finishes with a long but silky finish. Only 143 cases produced. Alc. 13.2%

Last Call for this Winning Grenache

Two brothers (John & Steve Dragonette) teamed up with their 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 source from some of the most sought after vineyards in Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills & Santa Ynez. This bottling was sourced 100% from John Sebastiano’s vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills.

Dragonette 2013 Grenache “John Sebastiano” Santa Rita Hills
Retail 44.00 – GGWC 39.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
Use code DRAG13GREN upon checkout

On the nose, this Grenache displays its cool climate origins, with high-register red fruits, such as ripe raspberry, strawberry and loganberry mingling with complex smoky earth notes, pine and herbal notes of fresh thyme, rosemary, mint, and oregano.  On the palate the wine is energetic and lively, as red fruits (strawberries, pomegranate) mingle with citrus notes of blood orange, orange peel and fresh herbs (thyme), anise and tar.  The wine has great lift from fresh tannins and ample, mouth-watering acidity and minerality (stones and seashells), and it finishes with great length and freshness.

Frank’s Holliday Champagne Suggestions

As the holiday season is in full swing, I needed to make sure there will be some SPARKS in your end-of-the-year festivities so I put together a few “bubbly” suggestions for you to choose from. And for those of you who like to make a bigger bang into the New Year, I also have a some large format bottles!

Click on the links below for the tasting notes and pricing:
Use the code BUBBLY on checkout for FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more of ANY of the following!

My best selling Champagne below $35.00

MONTHUYS CHAMPAGNE NV BRUT, CHAMPAGNE FRANCE

My best selling Rose Champagne

DIEBOLT VALLOIS CHAMPAGNE NV BRUT ROSE

My best selling Champagne below $45.00

GONET-MEDEVILLE 1ER CRU CUVEE TRADITION

Also check out these other bubbly suggestions:

DUVAL LEROY NV 750 ML CHAMPAGNE

PIERRE MORLET “GRANDE RESERVE” CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

This is Luc Morlet, the infamous Napa Valley winemaker’s family in Champagne!
STEPHANE COQUILLETTE CARTE D’OR BRUT CHAMPAGNE
BROCARD PIERRE 1ER CUVEE “BLANC DE NOIRS” BRUT CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

Sparkling Wines:

ALLIMANT LAUGNER CREMANT ROSE LOIRE VALLEY

CLOS DE LA BRIDERIE CUVEE SILEX

LARGE FORMAT:

MONTHUYS CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV IN MAGNUM

MONTHUYS CHAMPAGNE NV BRUT, 3 LITER

I know that making a selection from this many choices can be intimidating, so as always, don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need any assistance!

100 case Chardonnay Gem!

For three generations the Holtermann Family has been one of the premier importers of wines, varying from hard-to-find, leading wineries to very large producers from all over the world.  Their longtime relationships with growers, enolgists, winemakers and vineyard managers provided them with a unique perspective of the wine industry. So the next step was panting their own vineyards, which they did in the remote ridge tops of Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast.  Add winemaker Carroll Kemp to the mix and you’ll wind up with great quality estate-grown wines at a great price point!

Alma Fria 2013 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Retail 45.00 – GGWC 42.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use code ALMA13 upon checkout 


This is one of the most pleasant Chardonnays I have tasted in a long time.  The aromas of clementine, citrus and green apple jump out of the glass.  The wine is very well crafted with exquisite fruit and flavor on the mid-palate.  The wine is well-balanced with bright white peaches, lemon zest, quince and a whiff of wet stone minerality.  No new oak was used on this wine so it retains its pristine flavors throughout, and even with malolactic fermentation it retains its bright upfront fruit leading into an elegant finish.  Unfortunately only 100 cases produced!

100 YEAR OLD/ 150 CASE “ZINSATION”

The best caves, and cave tour in California (hint, hint for those who like to visit). Add a few amazing vineyards, including their Estate properties and 2 great winemakers and you have the key to success.  Bella has been producing stunning Zins for 20 years now very quietly, below the radar, but not for long.  The 2013 vintage is their top accolade, and I recommend this wine highly!

Bella 2013 Zinfandel “Lily Hill” Estate, Dry Creek Valley
Retail 44.00 – GGWC 39.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use code BLH13 upon checkout

The 2013 vintage of Bella Lily Hill is sourced from Bella’s 1.2 acre old vine “Lily Hill Estate” vineyard which was planted in 1915.  This stunning Zinfandel release draws together a beautiful blance of bold black and red stone fruit and a hint of subtle spiciness.  An elegant bouquet of brambly rapsberries, chocolate and plum underscores the classic style of this great estate.  The palate delivers cocoa and candied fruit, finishing with savory qualities, juicy acidity and soft silky tannins.  Only 6 barrels of this wine were produced!

A “Monumental” Cabernet, Only 10 cases allocated!

This wine will rival big names like Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Colgin at a fraction the cost. The wine was sourced from one of Napa Valley’s much sought after vineyards. Only 4, yes FOUR, barrels of this nectar of the gods were produced, and with a 15 case allocation one cannot go very far promoting this – that is the reason we are only sending this to a select portion of our mailing list. I anticipate this wine to sell out within days, so let me know ASAP.
Revival 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail 135.00 – GGWC 124.99
FREE SHIPPING on FOUR or more
Use discount shipping code REVIVAL during check out
REVIVAL is a wine created in an effort to stop time, if even for a moment, so that the laughter, stories, and songs that emerge when we’re gathered among our loved ones might carry us long into the night, and lift our days with a sense of connection, joy and gratitude.This release of REVIVAL offers tons of intensity that jumps out of the glass. One is welcomed by a whiff of anise, black currant and a touch of coffee and tobacco. On the palate this gem of a wine is both power and finesse (linebacker and ballerina). Well-balanced, silky smooth on the palate with great complexity. Tannins are there and I suggest decanting. Only 100cases produced! Should drink well for a decade and more!

LAST CALL FOR STUNNING 2 BARREL NAPA CABERNET

The Best under the Radar Cab in Napa!
The inaugural release was the 2007 vintage and as of today this winery still floats under the radar, which is great for you and me!  Only 2 barrels (50 cases) of this amazing gem are produced.  This is exactly why I wake up early every day to find gems like this.  You will not be disappointed.  I put this wine in the range of the big names at a fraction the price! This is the fourth vintage, and it already created a following among my clients and you will not find it in the big box and discount stores!

Mapson 2012 “Left Lane” Cabernet, Napa Valley 
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 75.00
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use discount shipping code MAP12LL upon checkout

The Mapson 2012 Left Lane is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance  Merlot and Petit Verdot, so very left-bankish!  This wine is amazingly lush and rich in style, yet very composed and well-balanced.   This youngster offers up a gorgeous bouquet of black stone fruit, chocolate, licorice, jammy fruit with subtly hints of plums, a whiff of underbrush.  This full-bodied and luscious wine is one of the best wines of the year.  Loaded from start to finish with stunning fruit that leads into an equally amazingly long finish.