REALLY – AN UNDER $70 Thomas Rivers Brown CABERNET!

Three great friends – One goal: to create something worth appreciating, like the time they’ve spent together. They searched for an area rich in heritage, resources, and committed winemakers which took them 2,297 miles west from their homes in Kentucky to Napa Valley. They traveled to California time and again. Wine was shared, stories were told, and their idea was born.  At the helm is Thomas Rivers Brown, one of Napa Valley’s most distinctive and acclaimed winemakers.

Napa has been on a qualitative roll of late with 2014 falling right in line with the lauded 2012 & 2013 vintages. 2014 was the third year of drought like conditions in Northern California which helped the winery to get off to an early start with terrific concentrated berries and fruit.

Post Parade 2014 “Stretch Drive” Cabernet, Napa Valley
Retail $70.00 – GGWC $67.99
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The 2014 Stretch Drive Cabernet Sauvignon is perfectly representative of the vintage. Full of bold black and red fruit, bright & lush, right out of the gate this is ready to go. However as the wine sits in the glass, the underlying tannin structure starts to come to the fore. Enjoy now or over the next 10+ years.

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94 POINTS, BEST DOLLAR COST AVERAGE PINOT

Walter Hansel has become synonymous with great quality at a great price!  Year after year these wines seem to impress me and my clientele alike.  The first vines were planted in 1978 just a up the block from Kistler!  The actual winery did not start till 1996 when they produced 3 barrels of Pinot Noir and 10 barrels of Chardonnay, and the rest as they say, is history!  Stephen Hansel (Walter’s son) had one of the best winemakers as his tutor (Tom Rochiolli) so it is no surprise that they are still putting out great wines decades later.

Walter Hansel 2014 “Estate” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 
Retail 40.00 – GGWC 36.99
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Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2014 Pinot Noir Estate is another realistically priced wine from Stephen Hansel and is a super value with its sweet cherry and raspberry fruit, allspice, subtle background oak and a medium to full body. It is a beautiful wine made mostly from Rochioli cuttings and a small amount of the Joseph Swan clone. Like most of these Pinot Noirs, it sees about 60% new French oak and the rest used barrels. All of these Pinot Noirs are bottled unfined and unfiltered just like the Chardonnays.”

Be sure not to miss out on any of the other phenomenal Walter Hansel Wines!

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“Gorgeously & Voluptuous” Philippe Melka Cab blend – 94 Points

Fahri & Constance Diner created Skipstone after successful careers as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The vineyard is sits like an amphitheater carved into a horseshoe-shaped mountain hidden high above Alexander Valley. With their European roots Fahri & Constance strive to create the best wines to rival the quality and artistry of California’s most highly regarded wine estates.  Add Philippe Melka, winemaker extra-ordinaire and you see where this is going….

Skipstone 2014 “Faultline” Cab Blend “Estate”
Retail 135.00 – GGWC 124.99
FREE SHIPPING on FOUR
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“The 2014 Faultline has the classic texture and flavor of Cabernet Franc dominating the wine. Robust black and blue fruit are matched with a hint of tobacco, coffee, dark chocolate and a whiff  of savory notes. The fruit is rich and juicy with an underlying structure that shows the real power and potential of the wine. The tannins are fine and well integrated with a silky mouthfeel and bright acidity.  The 2014 Faultline is an all-estate blend of 59% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec”

Parker 94 Points: “This wine has a gorgeously voluptuous texture and is really a sleeper selection. Aged in 60% new French oak prior to being bottled unfiltered, the wine has loads of berry fruit, a touch of tobacco leaf, licorice, Asian soy, and some blueberry, black raspberry and dark cherry fruit. Layered and impressively constituted, this luscious wine should drink beautifully for another 20+ years.”

Check out his equally amazing and limited production: SKIPSTONE 2014 VIOGNIER “ESTATE”

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Another 97 Point…..

Matthias Pippig is not your everyday mainstream winemaker. He’s an “artist” in the true sense of the worth.  A creator, a dreamer, a visionary, a poet, a chef, a scientist.  Mix this all together and you have Sanguis.  Matthias moved here from Germany some 30 years ago with plans to make it big in the Rock & Roll scene.  Life took a different turn, as he had to make a living and  he eventually stumbled onto the L.A. food scene.  He worked as a waiter, and in time met Manfred Krankl, of La Brea Bakery fame, which whom he’d partner and work for several years.  Krankl, created the infamous Sine Qua Non label and that inspired Matthias to go a similar route and the rest is history.  Sanguis is not a quaffing wine, but complex and sophisticated.

Sanguis 2014 Syrah “Bossman”
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
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Winemaker Notes: “An eccentric gentleman, like the men of early car racing – Confidently humble, determined and patient, smart, beautiful (but not in the Hollywood or GQ sort of way), generous…probably in his mid-fifties but not the sort of 50’s that we’d find in a Viagra commercial and also not the Dos Equisman (though I like him very much).  As a wine, this just about has it all – a dark brooding core enrobed by bright and vibrant energy and an incredibly generous    manner.  It is as pure and lively an expression of Syrah as we’ve been able to coax from nature and put in a bottle – beautiful now and promising a long interesting life ahead.”

I’d say the 2014 is any bit as good as the 2013 vintage, so I’d be surprised not to see a similar review!

Robert Parker (2013) 97 Points: “The greatest wine made by this estate, the 2013 Syrah Bossman is a flat-out sensational blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier, from Bien Nacido and Watch Hills vineyards, that saw a quarter whole clusters and 23 months in new French oak. Its inky opaque color is followed by killer notes of smoked meats, pepper, olives and assorted dark fruits. This gives way to a full-bodied, perfectly balanced red that has a great mid-palate, seamless integration of its oak, tannin and alcohol, and a complex, layered personality that keeps you coming back to the glass. Hats off to winemaker Matthias Pippig for this beauty!”

Click here or on the links above to order!

95 Point “Classy” Chardonnay & 95 Points “Expansive” Pinot Gem

Last week I spent the  morning tasting with Andy Peay, the owner of Peay Vineyards and his line-up was stunning! What really stood out were the 2015 “Estate” Chardonnay and 2015 Pomarium Pinot Noir. Later in the day I tasted with my wine group (12 wine professionals) and we each bring our “favorite” wine – that week was Pinot Noir week, so I opted to bring a bottle of Peay. I really impressed and surprised many of my friends. Some big names, Martinelli (Bondi 97 Points), Rochioli, Pisoni, Aubert , William Selyem and Kosta Browne were in the line-up. My little guy came out ahead of the pack. (FYI, the wine maker is Vanessa Wong who crafted many great Peter Michael wines until she met Andy Peay’s brother Nick and became Vanessa Peay, the winemaker at Peay!). My group also tasted the Chardonnay and was equally impressed!

Peay 2015 “Estate” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 54.99 or 49.99 on 12 bottles (solid)
FREE SHIPPING on 6
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OK to mix with Peay Pinot Noir

Galloni 95 Points: “The 2015 Chardonnay Estate is laced with the essence of slate, stone fruit, mint and white pepper. Bright, sculpted and nuanced, the 2015 screams with class. The 2015 deftly manages to be rich and intense, but not at all heavy. A hint of reduction adds nuance without being overpowering.”

Peay 2015 “Pomarium” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Retail 67.00 – GGWC 63.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
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OK to mix with Peay Chardonnay

Galloni 95 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Estate Pomarium brings together all the elements of the house style. The creaminess of Ama meets the more tannic profile of the Scallop Shelf in a vivid, nuanced Pinot Noir that hits all the right notes. Dark cherry, plum, rose petal, lavender, licorice, spice and new leather infuse the creamy, expansive finish. In 2015, the Pomarium is a winner.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

LAST CALL 94 Point “Full-Throttle” Herman Story Nuts & Bolts Syrah

Herman Syrah 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 a little over a decade ago. Russell is a real “Rhone Ranger” and that has not escaped the notice of numerous publications garnering many 94-96 point ratings and creating a real “cult-like” following.

Herman Story 2014 Syrah “Nuts & Bolts” 
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
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Typical Russell From style wine! This wine offers up an inky purple color. On the nose you’ll encounter  ripe, densely  packed blackstone fruit aromas, with a touch of pepperiness. On the lush palate this wine will coat your palate with complex,  vibrant black currant, chocolate, spice and cherry-cola flavors with a touch of zingy acidity.  The wine goes on for a long time and  finishes big and bold with surprisingly silky tannins!  VERY LIMITED PRODUCTION!

Winemaker Notes: Coming up over the grade with the whole valley opening out beneath you, decked in green late evening and honest to God rainbows, you’ve got the windows down in the aged blue Mercedes headed to shoot clays at your friend’s vineyard. It’s hard to hate nights like this. Blueberries and shotgun shells, Bailey’s steeped coffee, charred cherries, crushed velvet, smoldering oak, mahogany dashboard, distant kerosene lamps, new lilacs and the thought of someday maybe getting a Chris-Craft.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “A year in, year out killer wine, the 2014 Syrah Nuts and Bolts is another stunner that gives up ripe, full throttle notes of blackberries, peppered meats, game and singed leather. Big, rich, gorgeously textured and hedonistic, yet also balanced, pure and fresh, it’s a quintessential Paso Robles red that delivers the goods. Drink it anytime over the coming 5-8 years.”

Also check out these other amazing Herman Story Wines:
HERMAN STORY 2013 SYRAH “BIEN NACIDO” 96 POINTS ROBERT PARKER
HERMAN STORY 2014 CASUAL ENCOUNTER GSM, SANTA BARBARA
HERMAN STORY 2015 ROSE “AFTER HOURS”

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Killer Napa Petite Syrah


Over a century of grape growing and wine production hints at the amazing history that has transpired on our ranch. From its days as part of Rancho Caymus in the early 1800s, through the wine production period of the late nineteenth century, and then as source of high quality Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, through the twentieth century, The Terraces has been at the heart of the history of Napa Valley.

The Terraces 2014 Petite Sirah, Estate, Napa Valley 
Retail 45.00 – GGWC 42.99
FREE SHIPPING on SIX
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This is a HUGE wine! Deep purple. Rich, ripe aromas of blackberry, cassis, licorice, and black pepper. Palate is mouth-coating with continued flavors of ripe blackberry, blueberry, black currant with lingering sweet spices and leathery tannins. Big finish. Drink now to 10-15 years.

Be sure to check out the Terraces 2013 Zinfandel as well!

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A GREAT NAPA UNDER $50 CAB BLEND BY “SCARECROW” DISCIPLE

In 1999 Mary Rocca and Eric Grigsby purchased the 21 acre property after a 3 year search for the “ideal” vineyard site.  Mary called upon renowned winemaker Celia Welch, then Celia Masyczek to produce the label’s first vintages. The debut bottling was the 2000 Syrah, a varietal which to this day garners praise and awards for the Rocca family.

But Rocca really got on the map in 2002, when its Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet came in #1 in a blind tasting of 12 Rising Star Cabernets. Later, the wine was taken with a group of 12 other Cabernets to show in France’s 12 Best Cabernets from California. It came in #1 over there as well. Finally, those same 12 Cabs had another blind tasting competition in SF to see how they would rank by American consumers. It came in #1 again! Rocca’s star was rising fast. But so far they have been much under the radar, but I have a feeling that this will change soon. The current winemaker Paul Colantuoni worked for many years under Celia Welch (Scarecrow) and has taken a few pages out of her “note book” and it shows with the new wines.

Rocca 2014 “Vespera” Red Blend “Estate” Napa Valley 
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING ON 6 or more
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It will come as no surprise but the Vespera 2014 Proprietary Red Blend is  a real crowd-pleaser. The wine is forward, easily accessible, immediately delicious and enjoyable young.  As soon as it’s poured, the wine comes across as warm, rich and inviting. There are deep layers of dark ripe blackberry, cassis, and black cherry aromas here, comfortably interwoven with subtle hints of oak spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate.  On the palate this is a gorgeously soft, smooth blend that lushly coats the entire palate without a hint of heaviness or astringency.  It ends with a long, complex but silky tannin finish.  This is a wine that’s ready for full enjoyment right out of the gate.

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A decade in retrospect, the 2007 Vintage from Frank’s Cellar

On Saturday, March 11, we tasted 10 wines from the 2007 vintage and shared them with a crowd of about about 35-40 guest in our tasting room.

The 2007 vintage lineup included the following:

  • Ramey “Hudson vineyard” Chardonnay, Carneros
  • Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
  • Lioco “Carneros” Pinot Noir
  • Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard
  • Page Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
  • Trespass “Rendezvous ” Cabernet blend, St. Helena, Napa
  • Ramian “Chapter 7″ Cabernet Blend, Mt Veeder Napa
  • Kamen “Estate” Cabernet, Sonoma
  • Coho “SummitVine” Diamond Mt, Napa
  • Malk “Estate” Stag’s Leap, Napa

All the wines showed well and everyone had different favorites. The vintage didn’t fail nor show lackluster after a decade in my temperature-controlled wine cellar.

The “winners” if we were to crown them, were the following:

Coho & Kamen Cabernet: both of these showed gusto, great body and flavor with ample “mountain” tannins.  I’d say both wines could be drunk till 2020-22.

Trespass Rendezvous: this estate grown Cabernet blend (FYI next door to Spottswoode), benefited from a good 90 minute decanting before we served it, or it might have been a bit too tannic if we didn’t. The blackstone fruit was still as gorgeous as upon its release a good 8 years ago!

Paul Lato Pinot Noir:  the Fiddlestix is always an early ripening vineyard source.  This wine reminded me of a great Burgundy.  Not as bold as Paul’s other Pinots, but a Well-crafted gem at the hands of one of best winemakers in California.

Ramey Chardonnay: the Hudson Ranch would be a Premiere Cru if it was in Burgundy, and that wine was probably the crown jewel of the tasting, surprising everyone. No one believed a California Chardonnay could age this nicely!

Not to take away from the other wines, as Hansel Cahill Lane still had good fruit, with a slight hint of oxidation.

The Lioco might have been a little tired, but was still liked by everyone.

The Page, Malk, and Ramian still have a lifespan of about 3-5 years left; Ramian even a little longer, for those who still have some of these wines in their cellar. The Malk showed some leathery, tobacco flavors alongside its nice dark berry fruit.  The Page was very silky,  courtesy of the large dose of Merlot in this blend. The Ramian was still “in-your-face” bold, intense mountain grown fruit that wowed everyone and was agreed upon that it would drink well for another 5-8 years.

The next vintage perspective will have to wait a few years – 2009 and 2010 vintage will be on the docket. In the mean time, be sure to take a look at the current vintages from each of these winners and I am certain that you will not be disappointed!

Happy Sipping!

Your Patron Saint of (soft) Tannins.
St. Frank

97 POINT PINOT STAR

 

The Martinelli family has been growing grapes in the Russian River Valley since the 1880’s. At the ages of 19 and 16, Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini eloped from their small village in the Tuscany region of Italy, making their way to California looking for land to farm and start a winery.

In 1918 Giuseppe died, leaving Luisa with four children and the farm to care for. Their youngest son, Leno was twelve years old at the time and had wanted no other career in life than to be a farmer. Leno’s two older brothers wanted nothing to do with the impossibly steep hillside, so after completing the eighth grade, Leno finished school and took on the sole responsibility of farming the Zinfandel vineyard. His family told him that only a jackass would farm a hill that steep. Hence, he and his vineyard earned the name Jackass Hill.

In 1973 Lee Sr. took over management of his Uncle Tony Bondi’s estate, which was comprised mainly of apple orchards, and began planting vineyards in the rich soil of the Russian River Valley. Soon considered a premium grape grower, Lee’s fruit was in great demand from many wineries. Lee and his wife, Carolyn, realized the exceptional potential to create superb wines from these grapes, and decided to start their own winery, and the rest as they say…. is history.

Martinelli 2015 “Bondi” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 71.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
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Galloni 97 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Bondi Home Ranch, from Martinelli’s coolest Pinot site, is another stunner. Silky, nuanced and wonderfully expressive on the palate, the 2015 possesses remarkable intensity but in a decidedly mid-weight style by Martinelli standards. Dense and compact in its center, the 2015 needs at least a few years to open up. Even today, though, it is dazzling. Early to bloom and late to ripen, Bondi Home Ranch enjoys an especially long growing season.”

Make sure to check out the not so shabbily rated 
MARTINELLI 2015 ZIO TONY PINOT NOIR, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, 96 POINTS
MARTINELLI 2014 PINOT NOIR “BONDI RANCH” 96 POINTS PARKER

    
Martinelli 2015 Zio Tony Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley  
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 71.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
Use code MARTINELLI during checkout


Galloni 96 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Zio Tony Ranch is another fabulous wine from Martinelli. Dark, round and inviting, the 2015 possesses striking depth and intensity. Succulent black cherry, plum, spice, leather and rose petal shape this utterly compelling Pinot. Sweet floral notes add attractive aromatic lift and refinement.”

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