Happy HalloWine!!

Le Pich, meaning “golden eagle” in Waipo Indian is a project from Purlieu Wines. Purlieu’s objective is always balance:  healthy fruit picked at peak ripeness, with power and freshness; with balance comes the capacity for wine to age, fascinate and excite.

Winemaker Julien Fayard trained in France, was the assistant to director of winemaking for the legendary Lafite-Rothschild, and moved to Napa Valley in 2006. Julien worked at Quintessa before joining Atelier Melka.  Most recently, Julien worked as Phillippe Melka’s director of winemaking with Hundred Acre, Vineyard 29, Lail, Gemstone, QTR, Perfect Season, and other ventures.

Purlieu 2015 Chardonnay “Le Pich”  Russian River Valley
Retail 32.00 – GGWC 27.99
Use code HALLOWINE at checkout

The 2015 Le Pich Chardonnay offers up a pale golden color.  On the nose you’ll be greeted by notes of banana, white peach, vanilla and piecrust.  On the palate, this wine is rather rich and creamy in mouthfeel leading to lush flavors of white stone fruits, fresh citrus and baking spices.  Very harmonious this wine delivers for the price.  It has a long and clean finish.  Sadly, only 250 cases were produced!

Also, be sure to check out the Le Pich 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon!

Click here or on the links above to order!

What is a Microclimate?

Microclimate is a word English teachers love: the definition is self-explanatory. But while it seems easy to understand, the wine jargon that often accompanies wine tastings and tours makes microclimates seem complex and confusing. In truth, microclimates are easy to see and even easier to feel.
Unlike “malolactic fermentation” and other mysteries of winemaking, microclimates are quite tangible. One day, I left San Francisco en route to Napa and it was 60 degrees and foggy.  I drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and drive through Sausalito and the sun tries to peak out.  Before long, I am driving into Marin and the temperature gauge goes from 60 to 70.  As I go East and enter Carneros the temperature has gone to 74. As I drive from Carneros along Highway 29, every mile the temperature seems to going up.  I work my way to the Silverado Trail and am by the time I reach Yountville it reads 78 – as you can see the “micro-climates” at work.  That day I wind up in Calistoga (30 miles north) and it was a balmy 90 by 11:30 AM!

Simply put, microclimates are the smallest measure of climate, conveniently situated under macro- and mesoclimates. Macroclimates describe large areas defined by certain weather patterns or landforms like mountains, such as Napa Valley or the Cascades in Washington. Mesoclimates refer to smaller, medium-sized areas, like large estates or subregions of an AVA, like St. Helena, Santa Lucia Highlands, or even  a Single Vineyard like Bien Nacido in Santa Barbara. Microclimates define small areas, like an individual row of vines or section of a vineyard. While the term can refer specifically to that environment directly over a vine and its individual canopy, the word typically refers to groups of vines. Usually, these areas are defined by soil or elevation changes, proximity to water, or weather patterns like intense winds or cold pockets, for example. FYI, The Bien Nacido is hundreds of acres of vines and has over 15 distinct micro-climates.

Beyond dictating whether shorts or hats are appropriate attire in midsummer, microclimates heavily impact grapes and their resulting wines. These tiny spaces have a different balance of warmth or cold, humidity or dryness than their surrounding areas. Though minute, these factors have a huge impact on how grapes ripen.

For instance, fog blankets grapevines in the Russian River Valley in a cool morning mist, slowing their ripening compared with sun-drenched neighboring vineyards. For delicate Pinot Noir grapes, this slow and gentle ripening is ideal, but other grapes, like Grenache, demand more sunlight to yield delicious vino, making sunny, dry slopes ideal for their cultivation.

Similarly, various soil types provide different levels of water retention to grapevines, making the vines struggle more or less to produce fruit. As a result, vines may yield more fruit, or have smaller, more concentrated clusters. These factors combined give winemakers a different base product at harvest, forming the baseline for singular, delicious wines.

Along with one-of-a-kind virtues, microclimates provide vintners with similarly unique challenges. For example, the same moisture that brings cool temperatures to Sonoma mornings creates perfect conditions for rot, requiring growers to protect their fruit. Sometimes, the conditions even present botrytis, a rare form of rot that makes Sauternes and other dessert wines so amazing, but destroys grapes destined for dry wines.

Together, the balance between these factors forms the basis of terroir, and you can taste it. Cool or cold areas produce wines with lower alcohol than more balmy neighbors. Small clusters from struggling vines contribute more tannins than plump, juicy berries. Likewise, soils with a low pH create grapes and wines with more bright acidity.

They say good wine is made in the vineyard, but more specifically, it’s made by the microclimate. For once, it’s part of winemaking that’s easy to see, feel, and understand. And in wine regions, always remember to pack a sweater!

For more information on the microclimates of California wine country, or for help in choosing the perfect wine, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 415-337-4083.

The $55 Screaming Eagle 95 Point Prop Red ROCKS & YOU EVEN GET FREE SHIPPING!

Stan Kroenke (owner of Screaming Eagle) acquired 586 acres of the original land grant called Rancho San Carlos de Jonata..  And swiftly named his new winery “Jonata” paying homage to the 1845 Spanish land grant, Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. At the time the land grant covered a large part of the Santa Ynez Valley. Today’s Jonata is at the heart of the former land grant. The Jonata name was borrowed by the first pioneers from the local Chumash Indian and means “tall oak”.  Only a fraction of the land is planted, thus preserving a large portion of the land.  The first vintage dates back to 2004, thus the 2013 is the “10th Anniversary”!

Jonata 2013 Todos Proprietary Red Blend, Ballard Canyon
Retail 58.00 – GGWC 54.99
Use code TODOS at checkout

Constantly changing nose of strawberries, raspberry, pastis, sage, tobacco and grilled meat. Massive scoops of sweet red fruit/sweet cream on palate that quickly moves to savory cured meat notes. Remains fresh and charming and moves seamlessly to the chalky and coating tannins that emerge on the mineral-driven finish. Notes of Mexican chocolate. Tremendous life ahead

Robert Parker 95 Points: “The 2013 Todos Proprietary Red Wine is a smokin’ wine that’s made from 78% Syrah, 15% Sangiovese, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Viognier, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Merlot. Full-bodied, supple, elegant and concentrated, with impeccable balance, it offers lots of purple fruit characteristics, spice, dried flowers and underbrush aromas and flavors. It’s one of the more approachable wines in the lineup, yet it will evolve for a decade or more on its purity and balance.”

Click here or on the links above to order!



RETAIL 58.00 – GGWC 53.99
Use code COHO at check out

Mix with other Coho wines

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 will turn lots of heads! As always very limited!

Coho 2013 Headwater Cabernet Blend, Napa Valley
RETAIL 48.00 – GGWC 44.99
Use code COHO at check out

Mix with other Coho wines

Again, a superb, well-made blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Summit Vine Ranch vineyard atop Diamond Mountain, with Merlot from the astounding Michael Black Vineyard add some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coombsville area in southern Napa Valley and we have the ingredients for what I believe is one of the best Headwater blends ever produced!

On the nose this wine shows gorgeous aromas of black and red stone fruit.  On the palate one encounters a well-balanced, cohesive wine that is flashy and opulent showcasing stellar black and red stone fruit with a touch of chocolate and a whiff of toastiness, it has great vibrancy and an amazing balance of beautiful fruit and subtle acidity.  This is a wine that will age nicely.  The finish is gorgeous and lasts a good thirty seconds.

Also check out these other great Coho wines:

Click here or on the links above to order!

Helen Keplinger Pinot Noir


Boris Guillome is a 20+year wine industry veteran, having worked in some of California’s best restaurants and wine stores. In 2013, he decided that his next challenge would be in creating his own label, so he hired Helen Keplinger as his winemaker and set out to find exceptional sites and the best fruit possible. These wines are pure, focused and spectacular.  This is the second release!

Waterfall 2014 Pinot Noir “Walala” Sonoma Coast
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 59.99
Use code WATER14PN upon checkout

The wine is inspired by the winemaker’s love for Burgundy.  The wine offers a dark red hue. On the nose you are greeted by dark cherries, rose petals, plums and spices. The mouthfeel is elegant and lush, with flavors of ripe black cherries, black plum, clove, cinnamon, and tea. The lengthy finish is complex and inviting with soft silky tannins at the end. This is a smooth, balanced, savory wine. (Alc 13.5) Only 135 cases made.

Click here or on the links above to order!



2014 is undeniably a magnificent vintage! The production levels were down from the previous vintage, so that might be a problem, especially when a winery like DuMOL is in high-demand. I would say that this might the best release ever from this winery. I hear from the owner Kerry Muprhy and winemaker Andy Smith that the various wine publications that tasted the wine gave it rave reviews!

DuMol 2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 56.99
Use discount code DUMOL14 upon checkout

This might be one of the best Chardonnays DuMol has ever produced. The wine offers focused, piercing aromas of pear, lemon zest and cut grass with a flinty, chalky mineral edge. Crisp apple and lime juice on the palate broadens to ripe melon and white peach. Linear entry expands to layers of ripe stone fruits, almond and nutmeg. Electric acidity brings focus and balance to the persistent and intensely mouthwatering finish. Honey and lemon richness lingers. Serve at no cooler than 55 degrees to allow the wine’s full texture to sing! The 2014 was sourced from 5 amazing  vineyards – Dutton Ranch, DuMOL Estate, Lorenzo, Heintz &  Ritchie.

DuMol 2014 Syrah, Russian River Valley
Retail 64.00 – GGWC 59.99
Use discount code DUMOL14 upon checkout

The 2014 Syrah RRV is by far the best effort to date from Andy Smith. Sourced from three great vineyards (Greywackle, Gregori and Hoppe-Kelly). This wine offers soaring mutli-dimensional aromatic complexity that is really quite dramatic. Violet, dark cassis, graphite and espresso. Bright peppery component with hints of mint and red volcanic character. Simultaneously fragrant and red-fruited but with a brooding inner dark power. Focussed and granular tannins that are long but never edgy. Lingering complexity – espresso, dusty cocoa and mixed black fruits. Decant for an hour in its youth. You can easily age this wine for 10 to 15 years!

DuMol 2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Retail 74.00 – GGWC 71.99
Use discount code DUMOL14 upon checkout

One of the best RRV Pinot Noir DuMOL has ever produced! This wine is brilliant in the glass. Lovely purity of Russian River Pinot Noir aromas: juicy black cherry, black raspberry, sassafras and rosehip. As it opens, cassis and smoke then savory fennel emerge. Full in body, this wine is layered with bright red fruits on the lush palate, then broad and chewy with real depth of flavor and deep resonant texture. Firms up with air to a lingering mouthwashing savory finish. This truly is a real gem by Andy Smith – Sourced from some stunning vineyards in the Valley.

Click here or on the links above to order!

What is a “crisp” wine?

You’ve probably heard the word “crisp” uttered by the puckered lips of one of your wino friends, but what actually is a crisp wine and what makes it crisp in the first place? Let us demystify this often-used, confusing term.

The word “crisp” is exclusively used to describe white wines and is a reference to both a wine’s acidity as well as its dry — as in not sweet — characteristics. A wine is crisp when there is a good amount of acidity present that gives you a taste sensation similar to fresh squeezed lemonade, combined with an absence of sugar or strong fruit flavors. For these wines, the acidity and dryness are playing the major roles in terms of taste.

Crisp wines are perfect for sipping on a porch while lounging in the sunshine, or at your next backyard barbeque. A crisp wine should cleanse and awaken your palate, as opposed to a wine that saps the moisture from your mouth. It should taste refreshing and is the perfect wine to serve cold on a hot day.

These are wines that are best served young; they aren’t made for much aging, as the best grapes for these bottles are picked when they’re still not fully ripe, resulting in lots of acidity without a ton of sugar. This lack of high sugar also means these wines are low in alcohol, making them insanely drinkable. Try to drink them in their most current vintage because that’s when they’re freshest.

You’ll find crisp wines whenever you pop a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Assyrtiko, Albariño, Torrontes and even young Riesling. Some people try to claim that crisp wines aren’t very interesting, simply labeling them as “basic” quaffable wines. That simply isn’t true, though it’s an opinion that continually gets reinforced by snobby wine types. In fact, crisp wines can be excellent for pairing with food, especially when that food comes from the sea.

A few “crisp” wine suggestions:


Click here or on the links above to order!

136 year old Napa Winery comes back to life! Great Value for Amazing Quality


Liparita winery was created in 1880 by WF Keyes, son of General Keys.  The actual cellar still stands high atop Howell Mountain today. Going through some ownership changes, prohibition, etc, along the way Liparita gained fame and glory by winning gold medals at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and in 1904 at the St.Louis Expostion, which was a rare feat for a Napa Valley wine at that time!  The Hoopes family are the new stewards to the brand and have done a great job with the new release the Yountville V Block.

Liparita 2013 Cabernet “V-Block” Yountville, Napa Valley
Retail 68.00 – GGWC 64.99
Use code LIPARITA at checkout

The 2013 Liparita “V Block” is a single vineyard blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  This might be one of the better high-end tasting wines at a great value!  The wine is full in body, with lush, rich opulent flavors of black currant, anise and a touch of dark chocolate.  Amazing finesse and freshness shows from start to finish. The V Block is a complex and well-balanced wine that will please both your palate as well as your wallet!  This small production Cabernet finishes with a long silky grained tannin finish.  This wine is drinking well now and will cellar for a good 12-15 years.  Limited production.

Click here or on the links above to order!

Highly Rated 2014 Carter Cabernets have arrived!


Dear Friends,


Mike Smith

Mid October is always a time of excitement, many great Cabernets reach the shores of Golden Gate Wine Cellars.  As always the Carter Cellars wines crafted by my friend and ace-winemaker Mike Smith are worth the wait!  The current “stash” of 2014 although amazing in quality, is unfortunately very small in the quantity department.   Because of that I have come up with four “mixed offer packs” of these stunning wines.  I know I will not make everyone happy, but I try my hardest.  Please don’t take it out on the messenger!  Mother nature yielded way less for Carter, so I go less!  Most of the 2014 Carter wines scored 96-98 points, a few 93-94, so not a bad run!

We have 4 different FOUR-PACKS and a SIX-PACK to select from:

FREE SHIPPING – use code CARTER14 at checkout

Consists of 1 bottle each of:

  • To-Kalon Grand Daddy  97 Pts
  • To-Kalon The Three Kings  96 Pts
  • Weitz  96 Pts
  • Hossfeld Coliseum  94 Pts

Average score 95.75
FREE SHIPPING – use code CARTER14 at checkout

Consists of 1 bottle each of:

  • To-Kalon Grand Daddy  97 Pts
  • To-Kalon The Three Kings  96 Pts
  • Coliseum Block  94 Pts
  • Fortuna  93 Pts

Average score 95
FREE SHIPPING – use code CARTER14 at checkout

Consists of 1 bottle each of:

  • To-Kalon The Grand-Daddy  97 Pts
  • To-Kalon The Three Kings  96 Pts
  • Weitz  96 Pts
  • Coliseum Block  94 Pts

Average score 95.75
FREE SHIPPING – use code CARTER14 at checkout

Consists of 1 bottle each of:

  • To-Kalon The OG  98 Pts
  • To-Kalon The Three Kings  96 Pts
  • Weitz  96 Pts
  • Coliseum Block  94 Pts

Average score 96
FREE SHIPPING – use code CARTER14 at checkout

Consists of 1 bottle each of:

  • To-Kalon The OG   98 Pts
  • To-Kalon The Three Kings    97 Pts
  • Weitz   96 Pts
  • Coliseum Block  94 Pts
  • Fortuna  93 Pts
  • Hossfeld Coliseum 94 Pts

Average score 95.3

Click here or on the links above to order!

California Pinot is every bit as good as Burgundy

Pinot Noir harvest time at Pisoni

Pinot noir is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. The grape on the vine is highly susceptible to several ailments and once in the bottle, it is known for temperamental and unpredictable aging. The grape is most commonly associated with the Burgundy region of France where it had historically seen the greatest success, but today can be found in vineyards throughout the world.

California Pinot Noir surged in the early 2000’s, and today it is the 5th most widely planted grape in the state. It does best in cooler areas so the coastal wine regions are where you’ll find most of the plantings.

The Anderson Valley AVA is the coldest in the state, and it has become a hotbed for Pinot Noir, with newer artisan producers such as Waits Mast 100% dedicated to this fickle, nuanced grape. A ten-mile stretch with varied alluvial soil that runs north to south just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the fog spills into the valley, blanketing the hillside vineyards with cool air in the morning. Later, the sun breaks through in the afternoon, ensuring enough heat for ripeness but the wines are often light with vivacious acidity. The Waits Mast 2012 “Deer Meadows” Pinot Noir out of Mendocino received 95 points from Wine Spectator and is a beautiful example of this appellation.

The Sonoma Coast has also become a major player in the world of Pinot Noir. Most wineries just purchase fruit from the area yet Alma Fria 2013 Dona Margarita Pinot Noir and a hand full of others are based here. Like the Anderson Valley, it benefits from cold, foggy mornings with afternoon sun. It is also windy so, while the Anderson Valley has days when the temperature climbs into the 80’s and 90’s, the Sonoma Coast rarely gets that warm.

Coho winemaker Phil Titus

inspecting this year’s Pinot Noir

The Russian River, however, became known as a top area for Pinot Noir in the state with Williams Selyem attracting worldwide attention. There are now a host of small, boutique wineries including DuMol and Walter Hansel (see their multiple 93 Point 2013 Pinots), making waves of their own. Encompassing Chalk Hill in the east and the Green Valley in the West, it too benefits from ocean fog that rolls onto the vineyards in the afternoon. With clay based alluvial soil, the wines typically have more body than those from the Anderson Valley and Sonoma Coast.

Carneros, an AVA that is shared by both Napa and Sonoma, is not as cool but still gets enough wind from the San Francisco Bay on its southern border to make Pinot Noir with firm acidity. The soil is predominantly clay. There is often a marked difference between Carneros Pinot Noir and those made further north in the Anderson Valley and Sonoma, with the former often having more body and cherry fruit. Even though Carneros is a well-established and expensive area for Pinot Noir, it continues to attract burgeoning producers such as B Kosuge and Coho Wines who buy grapes from numerous vineyards.

Paul Lato has crafted several

amazing Pinot Noirs

Of course the Central Coast has become very well known for its Pinot Noir, with pioneers such as Mount Eden (their 2013 Estate Pinot Noir received 94+ Points from Galloni) helping to lead the charge in the early 80’s. From the Santa Cruz Mountains to Santa Barbara County, ocean fog and breeze cool keep the temperatures down. There is also a preponderance of limestone, adding mineral notes to many of the wines. Over the last decade smaller appellations within the Central Coast have captured the attention of up and coming winemakers such as  Paul Lato, who makes wines from the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Lucia Highlands.

This is just a snapshot of the variety of California’s Pinot Noir growing appellations. It is amazing how on one hand this grape has flourished and taken over so many regions yet on the other, the areas where it first received acclaim, especially Anderson Valley and Santa Barbara County, continue to set the standard.

If you have any questions about the many California Pinot Noirs, as always, I am available to answer your inquiries. Please don’t hesitate to call or reach out! My contact info is at the bottom of this email.