Philippe Melka’s Rock Star Effort

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 Oliver’s Blend “Estate” 
Retail  134.99 – GGWC 124.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code SKIP during checkout

OK to mix & match with other Skipstone Wines

Winery Notes: “Our annual approach with Oliver’s Blend is to create a blend from up to 20 individual small lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from our steepest, rockiest hillsides. Each lot has a unique profile (based on soil type, exposure and clonal selection) and blended they
create a foundation. This Cabernet Sauvignon is then embellished with our other blending varietals to best showcase the vintage. This year the foundation Cabernet was structured and powerful. We left it as the primary voice at 98%. The remaining 2% is Merlot which added a lovely roundness and fleshy mouthfeel to the wine. The wine is beautifully expressive of our site. With so many pockets of soil differentiation and exposures, Oliver’s Blend is a symphonic compilation of aroma and flavor. This coupled with clonal diversity of three separate Cabernet clones creates an exceptionally complex wine. Year after year, this is a wine of profound power and elegance.”

Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2014 Oliver’s Blend is largely Cabernet Sauvignon (98% with 2% Merlot) aged in nearly three-fourths French oak for 18 months prior to being bottled. Loads of earthy, loamy soil notes intermixed with underbrush, blackcurrants, black cherries, tapenade and some subtle oak are present in this dense purple, full-bodied, muscular style of wine. Like most 2014s, it is already showing plenty of deliciousness and should continue to do so for at least another 15 or more years.”

Also check out the most amazing white made by Philippe Melka as well –

Skipstone 2015 “Estate” Viognier 
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 57.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SKIP during checkout

OK to mix & match with other Skipstone Wines

The 2015 Skipstone Viognier exhibits a delicate light citrine color that reflects just like the faceted jewel. The nose is very generous revealing enticing aromatics of white peach, honeysuckle and jasmine with crushed rock notes that provide remembrances of youth spent on a hot summer day by the river. On the palate this wine is seamless, elegant and full bodied. The structure is balanced and complete with well integrated acidity and a long, satisfying finish.

Winery Notes: “Five rows of Viognier span the northern peaks of our amphitheater shaped vineyard. Situated on steep mountain terraces, the thin rocky soils force the vines to struggle which in turn brings out intensity and complexity in the fruit. Steady sun exposure during the day followed by afternoon shade blesses us with the ability to achieve both ripeness and long hang time. This in turn adds depth and complexity to the fruit. To balance the weight and intensity of this voluptuous grape, we limit the exposure to oak and avoid malolactic fermentation. Thus the final wine is full but bright and absolutely delicious.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Value White that puts a $mile on your face, keeping $$$ in your wallet!

Our friends at Sans Liege have been on a roll for some years now.  At our New York tasting this wine blew the minds of many of the attendees.  I even got comments like: “This is better than many “real” Rhone wines!” or “wow, amazing quality for the value!” Do I need to say more, this is a winery that  puts a $mile on your face while  keeping $ in your wallet!

Sans Liege 2014 Cotes du Coast, White Rhone Blend
Retail 28.00 – GGWC 24.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code COTES during checkout

Your fingers are intertwined as the wind brushes across the golden bluff. Breathing deeply, you take it all in. Jasmine, honeysuckle and the remnants of your long awaited outing alfresco – donut peaches & freshly whipped vanilla cream, sweet white corn, buttered and salted sourdough, orange pith. Not wanting it to end you share the last goat’s milk caramel and with it you sense the salinity of the waves crashing on the rocks below. The flavor lingers as you close your eyes, willing the moment not to end. The wine is a blend of 41% Viognier, 26% Roussanne, 18% Marsanne, 15% Grenache Blanc.

Click here or on the links above to order!

Pinot Noir blind tasting winner

In a recent blind tasting of 2014 Pinot Noirs, Alma Fria beat out some big boys (and girls).  Our tasting group consisted of 13 wine professionals, and we meticulously (blind) tasted all the wines twice.

The lineup included:

  • Argot (96 Pt. Parker)
  • North – by Alban (96 Pt Parker)
  • The Hilt “Vanguard” (94 Pt Parker)
  • Rhys “Horseshoe” (95 Pt Parker)
  • Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Hapgood (96 Pt. Parker)
  • Lucia “Garys’ Vyd” (95 Pt Parker)
  • J. Rochioli “Three Corner’ (95 Pt Parker)
  • Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” (95 Pt Parker)
  • Alma Fria “Holtermann”

The winner – ALMA FRIA with 7 First, 2 Second and 2 Third place votes, ahead of Paul Lato with 4 First, 4 Second and 3 Third place votes and lastly Argot with 2 First, 3 Second and 5 Third place votes.

Alma Fria 2014 “Holtermann Ranch” Sonoma Coast
Retail $70.00 GGWC $64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code ALMAFRIA during checkout

The highlight among the Pinots, the 2014 Alma Fria Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard is the most powerful and punchy of these wines. A rush of cherry, red stone fruit, dried flowers, tea leaves, mint and anise run through this bold, expressive Pinot. The tannins are a bit burly and need time to soften, but there is good potential here, not to mention tons of pure personality. I highly recommend to decant this youngster 30-45 minutes prior to serving to get full enjoyment of this baby.

Click here or on the links above to order!

Thomas Rivers Brown “Perfect-ly” crafted Chardonnay

Shibumi Knoll is a very small  Napa winery that was founded by wine collector Don Ross. Don attained a small knoll north of St. Helena in the early 2000s.  On the property was a small 3/4-acre vineyard, a modest cottage, a guest house and a winery. The cottage on the knoll was renovated and became the owner’s residence.  The name “Shibumi” stems from a book that Ross read many years ago and has special interest because it introduced him to the concept of Shibumi, a Japanese word describing a physical and emotional state which translates to “effortless perfection,” “understated elegance,” or “perfect peace.” When Ross decided to make his own wines – “Shibumi Knoll Vineyards” was appropriate.  Add Vineyardist Extraordinaire Dave Abreu and the exceptional winemaking skills of Thomas Rivers Brown and you have the making of a “dreamteam.”
Shibumi Knoll 2014 Chardonnay
Retail 95.00 – GGWC 89.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SHIBUMI during checkout

Thomas Rivers Brown: “Our Chardonnay has a rich golden complexion, beckoning you to taste. You can smell the delectable notes of warm vanilla, honey pomelo with a hint of flirtatious spice. As you taste the wine, elements of lemon, green apple and grapefruit, kissed by a floral blush are immediately sensed by your palette only to be balanced by warm caramel. The mouth feel is warm and luscious as the finish plays out with a clean, fresh sensation. The wine is balanced and complex making it drinkable now and will carry on beautifully for years to come.”

Click here or on he links above to order!

Navigating a Wine List

Navigating a Wine List

By Allen R. Balik, Napa Valley Register

We’ve all experienced it — perhaps some more than others. You’ve been planning a special night out with family and friends and eagerly await the transcendental experience of dining in a majestic restaurant.

On entering this palace of gastronomy, you are struck by its beauty and the regal nature of the entire scene. Now comfortably seated with your guests, you wait for the menus to be delivered by servers.

Then the moment of truth arrives. Here comes the wine list. Are you excited and intrigued with the search ahead or intimidated by its sheer size and complexity? Are you thinking, “Who can read all this and still enjoy the evening?”

With today’s computers, iPads and ever-changing vinous choices, the sight of the leather-bound and beautiful calligraphy of the tome is more or less a thing of the past. But for many, the wine list can still be intimidating regardless whether it was printed or downloaded that day (better ensuring the availability of your selection) or penned by hand as many were some time ago.

The construction of the list can directly relate to your comfort level in navigating through its content. Most lists are first arranged by wine type — sparkling, rosé, white, red and dessert — and that’s easy enough to understand. Yet how the wines are listed under these general categories may be challenging. Is it by varietal, country, region, assumed taste perceptions (e.g. light, crisp, fruity, rich, full bodied) or even price?

Today’s lists, regardless of the method used, are generally organized in a more “user-friendly” manner geared to inform rather than intimidate. But its sheer complexity may still be discouraging, and even if I understand the layout, what about all these names I can’t pronounce?

It’s always good to remember that the sommelier is your friend and there to help. The advice he or she offers can enhance your entire dining experience, so be sure to take advantage of the expertise. Asking the server about a dish’s preparation or the chef’s suggestion is common place at the table. Why not seek the same advice from the sommelier when it comes to your choice of wine?

To deconstruct and simplify any wine list, start by narrowing your selection process as you would with the menu or other shopping experience. If you know you want fish, you don’t have to spend time perusing the beef dishes. If you walk into a department store to buy a sweater, you don’t have to look at the fragrance, shoe and shirt displays. By the same token, if you want a white wine, don’t worry about the daunting list of reds and others. If cabernet is your choice, don’t worry about the pinots and zins. And if you can’t pronounce it, just point and ask the sommelier for help. Getting any easier?

Many years ago, I was on a business trip in Tokyo. We were having dinner at a heralded new restaurant featuring “Franco/Japanese” cuisine as it was all the rage in Japan at that time. I was handed the wine list by our host and asked to select a wine. My eyes widened and began to drift to the right side (price column) of the page. It was then our host politely extended his hand to cover the prices and said with a smile, “Just concentrate on the left side.

I frequently recall this exchange as price is often a determining factor in wine selection. So here’s another way to better focus your exploration of the list. If your limit is $50, don’t worry about all those wines that are more expensive.

Nowhere is it said that a great wine list must be intimidating or that a great wine must be expensive.

Now that you’ve better focused your choices and feel more comfortable with a wine list, remember that experimentation is also fun, so try something new from time to time. As you now know, the sommelier is there to assist you. Tell him or her you’re looking for something a bit different and what you like so he or she can guide you on the exploration with any number of good choices.

The best message here: Don’t be intimidated by the list. Just enjoy the experience even if a little help is needed.


A personal note from Frank Melis:  I suggest to bring your own bottle. It is cheaper to pay the corkage fee and you’ll enjoy what you know.  By doing so you’ll save a bundle of money as some wines are marked up 200 to 250%. As always, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 415-337-4083 or email  and let me be your personal sommelier. I’ll help you select a few wonderful wines to have on hand to be prepared for any occasion.

Diamond Creek’s neighbor Cabernet at 1/3 the price

Michael Klopka purchased the 150 acre estate in 1998 atop Diamond Mountain, but it wasn’t a palatial estate – even a “Diamond in the rough” was an understatement.  It was densely forested, nearly inaccessible woodland tract that choked sunlight.  It took a while to clear, and create 2 parcels (Cori and Sophie) totaling six acres of Bordeaux varietals.  Most of the fruit is sold, but a special section is kept for the SVR wines – only 150 cases are produced! The first harvest was 2004, so with 10 year old till their first (Inaugural offering was the 2013 vintage) release they had the time to experiment and release a great wine from the get go.

SummitVine 2014 Cabernet “Estate’ Diamond Mountain, Napa Valley
Retail 85.00  – GGWC 79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SVR14 at checkout

The second release from this estate offers up amazing aromatics that jump out of the glass – red and black stone fruits, chocolate, a touch of volcanic and anise.  On the palate this full bodied Cab shows of its great body and opulence that is very complex, rich and loaded with lush flavors of black currant, fig, crème de cassis and a whiff of dark chocolate. This well-balanced wine finishes with more bold flavors and well-integrated, silky tannins.  Only 149 cases produced!

Wine Spectator says: “Ten High-Altitude Napa Cabernet Sauvignons: Add SummitVine to your list of wineries to watch”

Wine Spectator 93 Points: “Brimming with rich, lively dark berry and earth tones, this delivers a mix of currant, raspberry, red licorice, espresso and spicy oak notes.  Best of all, this glides along on the aftertaste.  Drink now through 2028.  149 cases made.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

A Runaway Bride… Needs Wine!

Cloaked in mystery and unable to divulge secrets, Bridesmaid Wines are serious wines for bona fide wine drinkers. Just like her namesake and inspiration, Bridesmaid Wines are available, alluring, important and very sexy.

Bridesmaid is an Appellation Napa Valley white blend framed in the Bordeaux classic grape varieties. This wine is all about the talent of blending and lead blender is Pam Starr one of Napa Valley’s premier winemakers. Before starting Bridesmaid and Crocker & Starr Wines, Pam was the consulting winemaker for Gemstone and the winemaker for Spottswoode.

Bridesmaid 2016 Proprietary White, Napa Valley
Retail 27.00 – GGWC 24.99
Use code BW16 during checkout

OK to mix with Bridesmaid Red

The Bridesmaid White is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon.  On the both the nose and palate you might think the numbers are wrong, as you experience the unctuousness of the Semillon, the density, the flavors the body. The wine greets you with gorgeous and bright aromas of hibiscus flowers, kumquat and green apples.  On the palate you’ll encounter the lusciousness of the Semillon with its bold, dense somewhat creamy texture.  The Sauvignon Blanc flavors add a hint of minerality, honey suckle and a hint of tropical (not sweet) fruit. Well-balanced, and a great value!

Also check out the “big, bold” Bridesmaid 2014 Proprietary Cab Blend, Napa Valley

Click here or on the links above to order!

Wine Spectator 2017 Restaurant Awards

Wine Spectator 2017 Restaurant Awards

Every year Wine Spectator lists their “Wine” award winning restaurants from around the country and across
the globe. We thought that you might like to know which ones made the list near you.
Click the city names below to find out!


The Grand Award Recipients
New York City
Dallas / Fort Worth
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Washington, DC
Hong Kong
Cruise Ships
Napa Valley

DuMol’s fabulous 2015 releases!

DuMOL and Frank Melis go back to the 1996 vintage, the first one released, so a long and happy marriage, that has never been on the rocks!  I am proud to share that 2015 is undeniably a magnificent vintage! The production levels were down a lot 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 one of the best releases ever from this winery. I hear from winemaker Andy Smith that the various wine publications that tasted the wine gave it rave reviews!

Winemaker Andy SmithDUMOL 2015 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Retail 64.00 – GGWC 59.99
Use discount code DUMOL15 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 2015 was sourced from 5 amazing  vineyards – Dutton Ranch, DuMOL Estate, Lorenzo, Heintz &  Ritchie.

DUMOL 2015 Syrah, Russian River Valley 
Retail 64.00 – GGWC 59.99
Use discount code DUMOL15 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 2015 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Retail 74.00 – GGWC 71.99
Use discount code DUMOL15 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.

FYI: DuMOL’s owner is pouring these wines at our New York Wine Tasting June 17 and we will have a special tasting in our store on July 15!

Click here or on the links above to order!

Scarecrow Winemaker’s Astonishing New Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc

Celia Welch does not need an intro, but in case you wouldn’t know who she is – She’s the brainchild (i.e. the amazing winemaker) behind the following highly rated and highly regarded wineries including Scarecrow, Corra, Barbour,  Keever, 2480, Kelly Fleming, Bucella, etc.  For the past couple of years she’s been involved with a new project called YOUNT RIDGE. The property is based in Oakville, I know with a name like Yount Ridge, you’d think Yountville!  I was excited to taste the latest releases and was completely smitten by the wines.

Yount Ridge 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Oakville
Retail 100.00 – GGWC 94.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code YR14CS at checkout

This is the new Scarecrow! A blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec and 0.5% Merlot. Goregous dense ruby/purple color. The wine has a lovely nose loaded with dark fruit, plum and blackberry.  On the palate you are greeted by fresh, deep, dark and rich black stone, dark chocolate, anise and a touch of spice  flavors that roll over your tongue.  The wine is robust in body, yet very-well put together, well-balanced fruit to acid ratios. The Yount Ridge Cabernet is a very sophisticated wine that show class, balance and finesse!  This is a “Celia at her best” wine!  The wine finishes with seductive and silky grained tannins.

Yount Ridge 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Oakville
Retail 40.00 – GGWC 37.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code YR15SB at checkout

Only 3 tons were yielded from the property (2 Tons of Sauvignon Blanc and 1 Ton of Sauvigon “Musque Clone”.  All the grapes were selectively hand-harvested from their organically farmed vineyard. This might be the best SB in Napa this year.  The wine offers up a greenish hue and shows of its great aromatics on impact.  On the palate you are greeted by elegant notes of citrus, mango, grapefruit a medium body with nicely layered flavors and the right touch of crisp acidity.  This is a gorgeous wine and probably Celia’s best white ever!

Click here or on the links above to order!