95+ Point, SIX Barrel Satin-Textured, Stunning Chardonnay!

Justin Harmon, owner/winemaker was born in Chicago, to a large Irish family where wine did not play a role in his life while growing up. Milk was the beverage of choice at the dinner table, and the industrial beers of the Midwest, fueled family parties. He does not pinpoint a specific moment that his passion for wine was ignited but, instead, attributes it to a series of experiences, places visited, bottles opened and friendships forged. At this point in life, he can not imagine a life without the joys of all things wine!

Argot 2015 Chardonnay Simpatico Ranch, Bennett Valley
GGWC 62.99
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Robert Parker 95+ Points: “Justin made a beauty this year!  “This wine sings with fresh grapefruit, lemon curd and yuzu with nuances of acacia honey, fresh ginger, lime blossoms and chopped almonds.  Medium to full bodied, it fills the mouth with a stunning array of citrus, spice and floral notions, backed by seamless freshness and packaged in a beautiful satin-textured frame finishing with great length and depth.”

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Thomas Rivers Brown’s “only” 95 Point rated Cabernet!

Dr. Madaiah Revana balances a successful practice as a cardiologist in Houston, Texas with his commitment to Revana Family Vineyard. His desire to take on an additional career making Cabernet Sauvignon is rooted in his love for both wine and the rich tradition and culture of winemaking. First introduced to fine wine by friends, he quickly became fascinated with Bordeaux’s first growths. That fascination led to the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines of Napa Valley. Dr. Revana dedicated himself to learning all he could about his new interest. He traveled the wine regions of Europe and the United States, learning along the way, and he became determined to create a vineyard estate from which he could craft his own world-class wines. Revana Family Vineyard was born of that determination.

Add Thomas Rivers Brown as your winemaker, and you have the key to SUCCESS!

Revana 2015 “Terroir Selection” Cabernet, Napa Valley
94.99 net
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Strikingly vibrant, featuring complex flavors, innate balance and pure dark berry, spice, licorice and light oak shadings, with a long, lingering finish. Drink now through 2030.

Wine Spectator 95 Points: “Pure, rich, dense and driven by extracted blackberry, boysenberry, licorice, currant, cedar and cigar box nuances. Most impressive for the direct and authoritative presence. Best from 2020 through 2038.”

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Just Can’t Get Enough of …. this 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 94-97 point ratings and creating a real “cult-like” following.

Herman Story 2016 Syrah “Nuts & Bolts”
GGWC 49.99
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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!


Winemaker Notes: “At last, the guitar is yours. Its velvet lined case contains the spirits of 1000 shows: fine Cuban Anejo rum, black cherry coke, Connecticut wrapped Gurkha Beauties, motor oil and chicory coffee. In your hands the guitar unleashes a series of riffs that rip like a ¼ mile drag race on cherry tarmac. This thing destroys, like a dragon breathing fire on a California hillside. Outside the garage, a crowd has gathered, they build a funeral pyre and offer up baskets of fresh cherries as you strike one more chord and melt the iron shackles holding the maidens. (DRINK NOW: 45 min decant CELLAR: Now through 6-8 years)”

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Bevan’s 100 POINT 2016 Cabernets & Bordeaux Blends are here!

I tasted the latest Bevan wines last week, and was speechless how good they were, this young!  The wines were opened (and decanted) at 11 AM, and I tasted them at 1 PM. One after another they were a WAW (What A Wine)!  Unfortunately production levels are still down, so not a large amount was allocated to me, but I am excited to share that the following highly rated wines from Bevan Cellars arrived in my warehouse.

Tench 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ 98-100 Points Robert Parker:

”Deep purple-black colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard features cassis, ripe plums and mulberries with hints of black forest cake, peach blossoms and bay leaves plus a touch of black pepper. Full-bodied with elegantly played, very fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, it fills the mouth with perfumed black fruit layers, finishing long and minerally. 125 cases were produced.”

Russell’s Notes: “Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has massive blue fruit qualities. The textures are pure Tench: massive and lively.”

Tench 2016 EE Proprietary Red ~ 97-100 Points Robert Parker:

“Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, the 2016 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard reveals a deep garnet-purple color and reticent nose of crushed black and red cherries, mulberries with wafts of dried herbs, lavender and fresh roses plus hints of pencil shavings and tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied, very fine and very fresh in the mouth, it has drop dead gorgeous poise and sophistication with a long, graceful finish that cannot fail to impress.”

Russell’s Notes: “Our EE Red Blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It has a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than ever before making it even livelier than the 2013 EE, a vintage which produced some of our most massive wines. The Cabernet Franc provides an amazing violet quality and the Merlot adds a little extra richness. The result is luxurious, intense dark fruit.

Sugarloaf 2016 Proprietary Red ~ 97-100 Points Robert Parker:

“Very deep purple-black colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard (a barrel sample) gives up profoundly ripe, expressive black berry and cassis scents with underlying chocolate box and spice cake hints plus wafts of roses and dried herbs. Full-bodied, rich, ripe and full on full throttle when it comes to flavors, it has a firm, fine-grained backbone and an epically long finish. 300 cases produced.”

Russell’s notes: “Sugarloaf Mountain Proprietary Red Wine. Wine Advocate has scored the last four vintages of this wine 100, 98+, 100, 99. The 2016 Sugarloaf is better than any of the previous vintages. Drop the mic, walk off. Good night.”

Ontogeny 2016 Proprietary Red NYR (but I’d say 96-98)

Russell’s Notes: “Ontogeny. Like our EE, this is more Cabernet Sauvignon than ever before. Less mineral, more pure fruit. It also has a layer of richness that the previous Ontogeny wines didn’t have. The fruit profile from the additional Cabernet Sauvignon is blackberry, boysenberry and there is a hint of mocha that really pops on the finish. Deep purple, incredibly seductive. This is as decadent as Ontogeny has ever been.”

The 2015 received a 96 Pt rating: “Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Ontogeny Proprietary Red Wine gives a gorgeous nose of spice box, violets and mocha with a core of crème de cassis, ripe plums and black cherries plus a touch of underbrush. Full-bodied, ripe and expressive, it is beautifully open for business right now with a soft, approachable texture and a long, spicy finish.”

Due to the always limited availability I am making the following mixed cases available, on a first-come, first served basis.

Bevan A – mixed ½ case = $899.99
~ 1 Tench Cab, 1 Tench EE Cab Blend, 1 Sugarloaf and 3 Ontogeny

Bevan B –  mixed ½ case = $899.99
~ 2 Tench EE Cab Blend, 1 Sugarloaf and 3 Ontogeny

Bevan C – mixed 4 pack   = $599.99
~ 1 Tench EE Cab blend, 1 Sugarloaf and 2 Ontogeny

Bevan D – mixed case = $1329.99
~ 1 Tench Cab, 1 Tench EE Cab Blend, 1 Sugarloaf, 3 Ontogeny  2 Rita’s Crown, 2 Petaluma Gap, 1 Chardonnay “Richie” 1 Sauvignon Blanc

Small amounts of the following great Bevan wines are still in stock:
Petaluma Gap 2016 Pinot Noir
Rita’s Crown 2016 Pinot Noir
Ritchie Vineyard 2016 Chardonnay
Dry Stack 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

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“Gold Standard” under $40 Red

The Hendry family has been farming the same vineyard in Napa since 1939. The lessons learned in almost 80 harvests provides them with a high level of knowledge and a unique connection to the land. The Hendry Ranch is composed of 203 acres situated in the hills north west of Napa, which include 114 acres of vineyard. This latitude and location in the valley experiences substantial marine influence, and allows them to grow 11 different varietals, each carefully distributed among the many vineyard blocks.  Value and great quality has been paramount for the Hendrys.

Hendry 2015 Zinfandel “Block 7 & 22” Napa Valley
GGWC 36.99
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Pretty ruby color. Soft, spicy aromas of bright cherries, bitter chocolate, sweet tobacco and spice. Medium to full in body, with fairly subdued tannins. Flavors of red fruit and jam, mint and baking chocolate. After a dark, burly and brooding 2013 & 14 vintage, Blocks 7&22 again takes a more familiar, softer, spicier form – Great body, but with a silky Pinot Noir like charm

Serve with a whole chicken, roasted with plenty of rosemary, thyme, salt and garlic, would be a delicious pairing with this wine, as would pasta with sundried tomatoes, capers, anchovies and herbs—dishes high on flavor but moderate in fat.

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96 Point (200 case) Cabernet beats BIG NAMES in Blind Tasting

Our first of the summer blind tasting Cabernet tasting brought together the who is who among great Cabs.  The lineup included:

  • Aloft (95 RP)
  • Vineyard 29 (95 WA)
  • Fait Main Las Piedras (95 WA)
  • Vineyardist (96 WA)
  • Barnett Rattlesnake Vyd (95+ WA)
  • Ramey Pedregal (95+ AG)
  • Ceritas PMR (96 AG)
  • Cliff Lede Scarlet Love (97 WA)
  • Robert Foley (96+ WA)
  • Kamen Kashmir (99 WA)
  • Crown Point (96 WA)

The Winner – Crown Point 2014!!

Made by a Philippe Melka and longtime Harlan assistant Adam Henkel, this team got it right from the get-go.  Saturated garnet in color, the aromatics of this wine point to freshly baked blackberry pie, plum preserves, toasted rye bread and slate. Voluptuous and fullbodied, this 2nd release is built around tannins wrapped in a blanket of glycerin- notably marked with the essences of cassis, graphite, scorched earth, and dark chocolate. Loaded with black and blue fruits, this wine combines finesse and power that swells across the palate in impressive fashion. One for the cellar, it should drink best from 2018-2028… most likely hitting the top of the evolutionary bell curve ten years from vintage date (2024). Very small production.

Crown Point 2014 Cabernet “Estate” Happy Canyon
GGWC 159.99
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Philippe Melka Notes: “The 2014 Crown Point Cabernet Sauvignon undeniably blew me away. It is precisely what we should expect from Roger’s estate vineyard in Happy Canyon. This is an impeccable encapsulation of what he wants this wine to be: great minerality, a marvelous amount of richness and elegance. This wine should drink well and age gracefully for 25+ years.”

96 Points Wine Advocate: “A deep, velvety purple color in the glass, this bottling by proprietor Roger Bower and winemaker Adam Henkel shows dark-chocolate-covered black cherries, fresh blackberry, white pepper, violet oil, port reduction sauce and spice sake on the lavish nose. Firm tannins frame the palate, which carries black currant and roasted lean beef flavors through soy and pepper sauce into a finish of caramel and espresso grinds.”

95 Points Antonio Galloni: “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is gorgeous.  Ripe red cherry, raspberry jam, mocha and espresso infused this supple, flamboyant Cabernet.  Silky and purple, with no hard edges at all, the 2014 hits all the right notes.  Even with all of its natural intensity, it displays a good bit of aromatic freshness and nuance as well.”

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Seductive 95 Point Napa Cab Blend

The 2016 GB Crane  “El Coco” crafted by Dave Phinney  is a blend of  Cabernet, Merlot, with a spash of Petit Sirah and Old Vine Zinfandel.  Aromatics, abound and complete, the “El Coco” is replete with a wide spectrum from boysenberry jam and black plum to candied raspberries and nutmeg. The palate is ripe with dark stone fruits, blueberries, a hint of meatiness and confectionary orange, akin to mandarin encased foie gras. With just enough tannin to bind the flavors together. The wine finishes elegantly with a salivating savoriness that lingers.

GB Crane 2016 “El Coco” Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
GGWC 76.99
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Robert Parker 95 Points: “The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 G.B. Crane Vineyard el Coco sings of dried plums, cherry cordial and Christmas pudding with nuances of potpourri, Ceylon tea, roses and Chinese five spice. Wow—the palate is super concentrated with voluptuous fruit and a plush frame plus plenty of freshness, finishing very long.”

Winemaker Notes: “Bold and concentrated, the 2016 El Coco is abundant in a ripe dark fruit continuum—black plums and boysenberry compote—and a hint of meatiness and toffee. Energetic and rich on the palate, the wine radiates with dark stone fruits, cinnamon and fresh Madagascar vanilla. With a nice balance of acidity, tannin and fruit, the El Coco begins to soften and finishes with length.”

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Under $50 Napa Cab – Smells Great, Taste Great – It is “delicious” and you receive FREE SHIPPING too!

Again, a superb, well-made Coho Headwaters.  This vintage is a blend of 56%  Cabernet Sauvignon with 33% Merlot from the astounding Michael Black Vineyard add 11% Petit Verdot from the Coombsville area in southern Napa Valley and we have the ingredients for what I believe is one of the best Coho Headwater blends ever produced!

Coho 2014 Headwaters Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
GGWC 49.99
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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.  This wine is drinking well now, and should cellar well for 7-10 years.

Winemaker Notes: “A vibrant, richly flavored wine.  With its proximity to the  Bay it imparts spicy aromatic and flavor complexities, while the gravel and volcanic-rock strewn soils contribute to the mineral notes that rolls on the palate and gorgeous long finish.  A focused purity of gorgeous red and blue fruits infuse a core of currant and pomegranate flavors.  This is an elegant wine that despite its early approachability will continue to reveal additional complexities for the next  6-10 years.

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95+ Point low $40s Pinot & FREE SHIPPING TOO!

Walter Hansel Winery has been synonymous with good quality and well-priced wines for years.  Real crowd-pleasing wines for those who don’t want to break the bank and still want to get a good quality glass of wine.  The 2015 Cahill Lane might be one of Steve Hansel’s best efforts to date.  Even with a 95+ Rating (which I think was 1 or 2 points shy from where it should be) this wine will impress both beginner and advanced oenophile.

Walter Hansel 2015 Pinot Noir “Cahill Lane” Russian River Valley
GGWC 43.99
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Anthony Galloni Vinous 95+ Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Cahill Lane Vineyard is a bit more closed than the other wines in this range, but it also offers greater subtlety finesse and nuance. I expect the 2016 will need at least a few years to be at its best, but all the elements are in place for that to happen. Blood orange, white pepper, chalk and mint give the 2016 an attractive upper register that is beguiling. This is a superb showing from Steve Hansel.”

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Wine of the Year Candidate!

Barbara and Jim Richards always had an interest in wine, both in its making and its consumption, and in food and gardening. In 1980, they were living in Midland, Texas, and began thinking about a second home and decided to start looking for a small property in the Napa Valley where they could build a home and plant a small vineyard. This dream was realized in 1983 when a friend of theirs, Dan Duckhorn, called and told them about the property now known as Paloma Vineyard.  The property is located five miles northwest of St. Helena at the top of Spring Mountain. In the last half of the 19th century it was a vineyard, but was allowed to return to forest around the turn of the century. The purchase of this raw land was the beginning of an odyssey that is ongoing, ever changing, but with one goal—to grow the best grapes possible and make a wine that reflects the terroir of Paloma Vineyard, Spring Mountain and Napa.  Sadly both Jim (2009) and Barbara (2016) passed away, but their son Sheldon has been groomed since 2003 to take over the reigns, and continue the legacy of Paloma for years to come.

Paloma has become synonymous with Merlot for Cabernet Lovers.  Like some of its First Growth French counterparts, Paloma’s Merlot could be called a proprietary red blend as it is a blend of 85% Merlot & 15% Cabernet.  I also want to let those Cabernet-philes know that one the most sought after, highly rated and probably (one of) the most expensive wines in the world is NOT Cabernet, but Merlot (i.e. Chateau Petrus)…. So Paloma, might be Napa Valley’s Petrus, but at a fraction the price!

Paloma 2014 Merlot Estate Spring Mountain, Napa Valley
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 62.99
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The Paloma 2014 Merlot is mind boggling good! This is a Merlot that will give many Cabernets a run for their money as this is  not your wimpy, soft, silky wine, but a well-balanced, complex, dark, concentrated, full-bodied mountain-grown gem!  The wine’s aroma is amazing, and jumps right out of the glass on impact.  This 2014 is layered with dense black stone fruit laced with dark chocolate and a whiff of toasty vanilla.  It is a big, lush youngster that pleases from start to finish.  It is well-balanced and elegant at the same time. But I suggest to put this one down for 6-12 months prior to imbibing.  Very small production.

PS: This wine might be any bit as good as the prevous wine-of-the-year winner!

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