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:

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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.

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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!

126 case CAB by 100 Point Wine Genius


This 1 acre vineyard located next to Grace Family in St. Helena has been putting out some amazing wine over the past couple of years.  All courtesy of 100 Point winemaker Peter Heitz who turned this little piece of dirt in a pile of gold flakes!  The winery is owned by two couples, neighbors, the Martin and Croshaw families, thus MC4! The 2014 vintage marks the sixth release from this great venture and I am proud to serve it up!

MC4 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” St. Helena, Napa Valley
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 69.99
Use code MC4 at checkout

The 2014 weather was nearly perfect for Cabernet, and this year’s release is one of the best MC4 releases to date. It reminds me of a combination of the 2012 and 2013 vintage.

It has a gorgeous dark purple hue and exquisite aromas of black currant, chocolate, licorice and a touch of dust.  The wine is full in body, loaded with bright black stone fruit, chocolate,  anise and a whiff of subtle brown spice notes.  This youngster shows it potential immediately.  Only 126 cases of this youngster were produced. The wine’s mid-palate is very elegant, almost silky. The flavors keep on coming and lead into a long, yet unctuous tannin finish lasting a good 30 seconds.  Only 10 cases of this wine were allocated to me, so hurry to get some of this great well-priced Napa Valley Cabernet!

Winemaker notes: “The sixth release from the hand tended MC4 Estate.  Dark fruit, red pomegranate and subtle brown spice notes are darkened by roasted sage and ripe plum aromatics.  A focused entry widens, revealing dark berries, cassis and dark chocolate, accompanied by red lift and dimpled texturing”

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:


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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!

EARTHQUAKE ANNIVERSARY & Thomas Rivers Brown’s Inaugural CAB

A note from the “President, Wine Taster, Dishwasher, Jack O.A.T, of Golden Gate Wine Cellars.

Dear Friends,

Cypress Freeway Memorial

October 17 is in an “interesting” day at the Melis’ Family as it is the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but also my wife’s birthday (I better remember that!)

For those who might not remember, that was the “big one” that hit just minutes before the SF Giants and Oakland A’s were to start the World Series at Candlestick Park.  I am sure we all remember what we were doing around 5 PM PST on  September 17, 1989, especially those baseball fans among you.

I remember – I was ready to leave my first job as a wine consultant (fresh out of college) and when I walked through the store I thought I ran into a wine display with my backpack as it fell over, but I didn’t – It was the “BIG ONE”!  Thousands of bottles of wine, spirits, beer on the floor, light fixtures dangling of the ceiling, people panicking and confused.  It was pretty dark inside, and the noise and smell made for an eerie moment.

Enough nostalgia… on to the real stuff… “WINE” and the Inaugural release from TRB (Thomas Rivers Brown)

For the past few years, The Hobels & Thomas Rivers Brown had been searching for a new vineyard to add to the lineup, looking for a unique vineyard that would allow them to produce a wine that would rival the quality and balance of our original Hobel Cabernet Sauvignon from the Engelhard Vineyard.  They finally found a wonderful match with the R.M. Kennedy Vineyard, a beautiful hillside vineyard located in Calistoga.  The inaugural release from this vineyard, the 2014 Hobel “The Figure” is a voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon that has a spicy layered nose of vanilla extract, plums, cherries, toasty vanilla, rose petals and turned earth. The wine is juicy, rich and silky, with loads of glycerin. While it is easy to drink now, the depth of the materials promises great evolution.  Only 4 barrels  (96 cases) were produced.

Hobel 2014  “The Figure” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley  ”INAUGURAL VINTAGE”

Retail 100.00 – GGWC 94.99
Use code HOBEL at checkout

Mix & match with other Hobel Cabernets

Winemaker Notes: “2014s showed much more transparency than the 2013s. Vintage character dominated the 2013s, whereas varietal and site expression mark the 2014s which, for me as a winemaker, is a much more enjoyable experience. Wines took a little longer in tank to color up and concentrate so time on skins went from an average of 14-16 days to 18-19 days. The wines continued to concentrate in barrel, improving every time we sampled them.”

Click here or on the links above to order!