Another Syrah Gem by Sanguis

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.

Those who purchased the 97 Point rated Bossman will not be disappointed with this latest Pilgrim botting!

Sanguis 2013 Syrah “Pilgrim” Santa Ynez 
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more bottles
Use Code PILGRIM at checkout

Robert Parker: “Spice, garrigue, peppery herbs and mulled red and black fruits all emerge from the 2013 Syrah Pilgrim, which is 93% Syrah, 5% Grenache and 2% Viognier that spent 28 months in 300- and 400-liter barrels. This full-bodied, open, supple and lively red has bright acidity, good (not great) concentration and a clean finish. The acidity will keep this drinking nicely through 2024.”

Anthony Galloni: “Dark red cherry, plum, pomegranate, blood orange and apricot jam meld together in the Syrah-based 2013 Pilgrim. Beams of underlying tannin give the wine its energy and overall persistence. This is another rich, unctuous wine from Matthias Pippig. I very much like this wine’s energy in this style. Dollops of Grenache and Viognier round out the blend.”

Click here or on the links above to order!



Mike Davis and his wife Sandy earned their stripes in the tech industry before setting up shop in the Napa Valley.  They purchased a 155-acre property in Calistoga in 2011, along with other vineyard holdings in the Napa Valley.  The “estate” stretches from the valley floor to about 1300 feet elevation and is planted to all five red Bordeaux varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Viognier.  They have been big fans of Philippe Melka, and he jumped at the opportunity to work on this great project.

Philippe Melka does not need an intro, but I can tell you that this latest project Phase V will turn heads and could easily garner 100 Points!  This is the “Premier” release and I suggest to get on board early.  As soon as this train leaves the station it will be hard to jump on board.

Phase V 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Davis Estate Napa Valley 
Retail 215.00 – GGWC 204.99
Use code PHASEV at checkout

This might be one of most complex wines Philippe Melka has produced to date!   The color is amazingly saturated ruby/purple.  The nose is stunning, with aromas of black stone fruit, anise, spice, dark chocolate jumping out of the glass. The wine is lush and full in body with forward notes of bittersweet chocolate, espresso bean, black currants, a touch of leather a hint of spice cabinet.  The flavors roll over the the palate into along lasting finish.  This is one for the ages, a wine that will cellar well for a good 12-15 years! VERY LIMITED PRODUCTION!

Click here or on the links above to order!


100 Years of Napa Valley Winemaking History 1917-2017

In 1917, the United States was two years away from passing the Volstead Act, known as Prohibition. It was the law of the land until the 18th Amendment rescinded it in 1932. While the law made exceptions for sacramental wine, allowing for personal production of up to 200 gallons a year, all but 100 of the 2500 wineries in operation before 1920 ceased to exist.

It wasn’t until the late 40’s that wine-making in Napa started to pick up again. Louis Martini and Inglenook were among the post war pioneers, but the most influential force during this time was Beaulieu Vineyards and its new winemaker, André Tchelistcheff.

Born in Russian in 1901, Tchelistcheff’s family fled during the revolution. He studied agriculture in Czechoslovakia and then went to France where he dived into the science of wine-making at the Institute National Agronomique and the Institute Pasteur. It was at the latter that he met Georges de Latour, who purchased what became Beaulieu Vineyards in 1904. Latour made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse and Tchelistcheff arrived in Napa in 1938, becoming the chief winemaker and vice president of what was already considered one of the best wineries in California. He lived and worked in Napa until he passed away in 1994.

To say that Tchelistcheff revolutionized wine-making is an understatement. Planting at higher density using French oak barrels and frost protection in the vineyards, he introduced cold fermentation and promoted malolactic fermentation. His impact was far reaching and certainly not lost on Robert Mondavi, who broke with his family (who owned Charles Krug) and started his own winery in 1965.

Mondavi was not only a great winemaker but also a brilliant marketer. He expanded his holdings throughout the 60’s and 70’s, turning Robert Mondavi Winery into a highly recognized brand. Not least, he was a huge proponent of bottling single varietals, which was surprisingly pretty uncommon during this time. While Inglenook and Louis Martini had been doing this for decades, Mondavi had a distribution channel that made his wines nationally famous.

By the late 60’s, there were not only more single varietal wines but also single vineyard bottling, which began to emerge with Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard and the Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon being among the earliest.

The pivotal moment for Napa Valley wine came in 1976 at the Judgment of Paris. There, 11 judges (nine of who were French) blind tasted one panel of Chardonnays and another of Red Bordeaux blends and, low and behold, the top gold medals were awarded to two California wines: the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay — made by Mike Grgich who went on to start his own winery, Grgich Hills in 1977 — and the 1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. Other California wines placed very well too, with the 1973 Chalone Chardonnay taking home the bronze. Nearly overnight, California wines had a newfound respect and were taken much more seriously.

As its reputation for making world class wines soared, “cult” wines began to emerge. Diamond Creek, which was founded in 1968 started to acquire a following by the 1980’s, as did Bryant Family Wines and Dunn. Colgin, Araujo and Harlan entered the picture in the 1990’s, and if there were ever a cult Cabernet, Screaming Eagle, which sells for almost $2000 a bottle, would be it.

While Napa Valley is Cabernet Sauvignon focused, many other grapes are grown and the region continues to evolve. It has become a hotbed of influence for aspiring winemakers who come to work here from all over the world. In 1917, it might have seemed as if winemaking was on the way out but Napa is now held in the same regard as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany and Piedmont. What a difference a 100 years makes!

Frank Melis

Golden Gate Wine Cellars




Almost 15 years ago Scott Palazzo was asked by Thomas Keller, “Chef Extraordinaire” and owner of French Laundry and Per Se restaurants to craft a Cab Franc exclusively for him!  That resulted in amazing exposure for this small winery and the rest-as-they-say-is-history.

Palazzo 2013 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 
Retail 120.00 – GGWC 109.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code PALAZZO at checkout

OK to assort with other Palazzo wines!

This 2013 Cab Franc release might be the best wine ever produced by Scott Palazzo! This Right-bank oriented blend which is a favorite of many top wine lists around the country like French Laundry, Per Se, Gary Danko, Delmonico, Del Frisco, Daniel and many others. I have been a fan from day one, and this 2013  release showcases what I have preached for years – the small guys/girls are any bit as good, if not better than the big ones!

Robert Parker 97+ Points: “Another of the profound Cabernet Francs from Scott Palazzo, and to me, one of the two best he has made to date (the other being the 2007) is the 2013 Cabernet Franc. When I tasted it, it had only been in bottle about five weeks, but it was locked and loaded. Dense purple, with notes of forest floor, incense, violets, black cherries and black raspberries, some foresty notes are also present. The wine is full-bodied, opulent, with great acidity, vigor and delineation. This is a sensational example of Cabernet Franc and certainly one of the finest 100% Cabernet Franc cuvées money can buy from California. Drink it over the next 15-20 years.”

Make sure to check out Scott Palazzo’s HIGHLY rated and equally stunning, Cuvee Blanc as well!

Click here or on the links above to order!


Surprise Blind Tasting Winner

In a recent blind tasting of Syrahs, a little guy became the Big Kahuna! The line-up:
The Winner – the 2014 Campesino “Los Madres” Syrah!

Campesino 2014 Syrah “Los Madres” Carneros, Napa Valley 
Retail 42.00 – GGWC 38.99
Use code CAMP during checkout

A real surprise this 50 cases, yes only 2 barrel, production! Really wowed my group! If I would not have seen the label, I’d assumed to be drinking a classic Côte Rôtie.  On the nose and palate, I encountered notes of bacon fat a hint of spice, nicely coated by whiffs of apricot and lychee, with a touch of bitter sweet chocolate and black currants. Very deep, dark color is a precursor of the full body and beautiful, velvet textured, lush wine that is so well-made finishing with a long, spicy black stone fruit finish.

Winemakers Notes: “The 2014 Syrah was aged 21 months in 1/3rd new French oak and 2/3rd used French oak barrels. Aromas of crushed lavender and black and green olive, with hints of smoked meat and white pepper leap from the glass. Concentrated
and lively flavors of roasted herbs, graphite, blue and black fruits, make this a luscious and full-bodied Syrah with a long lasting finish.”

The Las Madres Vineyard is a meticulously farmed Syrah vineyard situated in the Sonoma Carneros. The hillside site is aligned east – west, and nestled in a bowl. This allows for excellent ripening during the day, while benefiting from cool marine influenced temperatures at night. Day to night temperatures easily vary by 35º F. The cool climate allows us to leave the fruit on the vines longer without fear of over-ripening. The tiny yields are packed full of refreshing acidity and bright fruit, resulting in a true expression of its origin.

Click here or on the links above to order!



The latest release of Fisticuffs will really knock your socks off!   Fisticuffs’ vision is to produce the highest quality wine while keeping price well managed  -  in essence, to over deliver, Knock you out.

Rob Lawson has been making stunning wines under various “cult” Cabernet labels such as Ghostblock, Mirror, Pahlmeyer and Kapcsandy for many years and did not skip a beat with the stunning 2014 vintage. For those who dream of big and expensive Cabernets and don’t want to pay the big bucks… I have got news for you! This is a wine that tastes a lot more expensive than its price point! This wine is “the” real deal! A knockout value

Fisticuffs 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Retail 34.00 – GGWC 31.99
Use the discount code “FIST″ during checkout

The 2014 Fisticuffs is a classic Napa Valley Cabernet . This “value” Cab offers up aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, cedar, and rose complement a mouth coating palate of vine ripened blackberry and baked raspberry. The tannins are modestly firm yet subtle and expansive, and slowly yield to mocha and candied pecans on the silky finish.   This wine over delivers for its price point!  This is low $30’s wine that tastes like $60!

Click here or on the links above to order!

Paul Lato’s killer MilAnge Syrah!

MilAnge is my own label, so I am of course very partial to the wine. MilAnge is named after my two daughters, MIL(ayna) and ANGE(lina). My award winning winemaker Paul Lato sourced the fruit from two of Santa Barbara’s most famous vineyard sites. Unfortunately, only 2 barrels were produced, so it will go quick!  The wine is a blend of Paul’s 97 Point Rated bottlings, so you won’t be disappointed!

MilAnge 2014 Syrah, Santa Barbara
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 74.99
Use code MILANGE during checkout

OK to mix with MilAnge Cabernet

The 2014 MilAnge Syrah was exclusively crafted by ace winemaker Paul Lato.  This youngster oozes with stunning and bright fruit. On the nose you’ll encounter red and black stone fruits with a whiff of bacon fat.  On the palate this lush wine is loaded  with sweet black stone fruit, crushed flowers, cassis and cured meats.  Bold, yet elegant this wine is concentrated yet approachable with a rich and lush mouthfeel. The wine ends with touch of white pepper silky finish.  Only 50 cases were produced.

Also be sure to check out these other great MilAnge releases:

Click here or on the links above to order!

The 411 on Phylloxera

Daktulosphaira vitifoliae

Grapevines, like all living things, are subject to disease and other pests. One of the most problematic for vineyards, as the world discovered in the 19th century, is phylloxera.
Phylloxera is a sap sucking microscopic louse that is originally from the northeastern states. After years of exposure, the native grape species became resistant to it; however, the vitis vinifera, or European grapes, are not.
When phylloxera strikes, it eats the roots and leaves of vines, which can deform vines so that they do not get nutrients or water, and injects deadly venom into the roots of vines. This might sound like a horror movie, but if you think about the level of destruction it has caused over time, horrific might be an understatement. It moves from leaf to leaf and can be transmitted by wind or transported by foot, and there is no way to kill it or prevent its proliferation.
Phylloxera was brought to Europe by English botanists in the 1850’s who traded rootstocks with American growers. It was first recorded in Provence in 1863 but its presence was known as early as 1858. Over the course of 1860’s and 70’s, it spread not only throughout the continent but also to other parts of the world, afflicting vineyards in Napa (where European grapes were being grown). Once the cause was discovered, two French growers suggested that the European vines be grafted to the resistant American rootstock. In 1871, the first American rootstock was imported from Texas. By the 1880’s phylloxera was brought under control, after destroying anywhere from 40% – 70% of the Europe’s vineyards.


A grape leaf infested
with Phylloxera”

To this day, grafting to resistant rootstock is the only way to prevent it. Hybrid rootstocks were created such as AxR1, which has its parents, St. George, an American species, and Aramon, a vinifera cultivar from the south of France. The problem is that the latter turned out to be non-resistant, which California painfully discovered in the 1980’s and 90’s. In the 60’s and 70’s when many vineyards were planted, AxR1 was the recommended rootstock and for the first 20 years it worked but eventually, it proved to be non-resistant. The growers that used St. George rootstock instead were saved and another hybrid rootstock, “41b,” so far seems to be effective.
In total the phylloxera outbreak in California, which hit epidemic proportions in 1992, spread to at least 50,000 acres of vineyards in California, mostly in Napa and Sonoma. It cost upwards of six billion dollars in damage. While that crisis was brought under control by the Millennium, another one loomed… Pierce’s disease.

Be sure to sample some of the wines that survived at Golden Gate Wine Cellars!




Bob Betz MW (Master of Wine, only a few hundred of those in the whole world), has had a long career in the wine industry, going back to 1974 when he received his first “training” in France.  Fast forward to 28 years at the helm of a prominent winery, and creating Betz Winery with his wife in 1997, to building a state-of-the-art winery in 2005.  His path has crossed many regions of the world, and it shows in his winemaking skills!

BETZ 2013 “Clos de Betz” Proprietary Red
Retail 68.00 – GGWC 61.99
Use code BETZ @ checkout

Winemaker Notes: “In the glass, the 2013 Clos de Betz displays a deep ruby hue, but the real excitement begins with the aromatics: black cherry, damson plum, and cocoa bean lead the charge, while leather, tobacco, sage, and truffle all show up with time in the glass. The palate offers merlot’s weight and density, yet faithfully expresses the freshness and detail of the vintage. This is further enhanced by the highest percentage ever of Petit Verdot in this blend (20%): dried thyme and pencil lead nuances add stunning complexity. This vintage of Clos de Betz reminds me of a classic, warmer, Right Bank wine, with both readiness and structure, and notable cellaring capacity.”  Just shy of 900 cases were produced, so it will not be around for a long time!”

Robert Parker 95 Points: “Inky colored, it has terrific and classic notes of plums, black raspberry, violets, espresso and scorched earth to go with full-bodied richness, lots of fruit and mid-palate depth, and an overriding sense of elegance and purity that carries through the finish. I wrote “classic” about three time in the note, and this is a beautiful 2013 that will cruise for 15 years or more in the cellar.”

Also check out Bob Betz’ amazing but limited production “old vine” white:

Click here or on the links above to order!

Hidden Secret Cabernet Turns Heads


Steven Kent has slowly been building a reputation of great quality wines, but many of use are very partial to Napa and Bordeaux and forget to look at other appellations and regions.  That said, this 2013 “Ghielmetti” Cabernet bottling will proof that good Cabernet is not just grown in Napa!

Livermore Valley has a long, dedicated history of growing the “Bordeaux” varietals, and in particular Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 1880s, pioneering winegrowers began to discover the potential of the Livermore Valley region. Then, as today, L.V.’s climate and soils closely resemble those of Bordeaux’s famed left bank of the Gironde. By the turn of the last century, Livermore Valley was already far ahead of its Napa Valley neighbor in specializing in the Bordeaux varieties.  Steven Kent is the seventh generation producing wine from this appellation.

Steven Kent 2013 “Ghielmetti” Cabernet Sauvignon
Retail 70.00 – GGWC 64.99
Use code SKW at checkout

This latest release is a real beauty.  The wine offers an intense aroma of crème de cassis, black currant, and floral notes jumping out of the glass. The wine is intense and full in body with gorgeous flavors coating the palate.  Extraordinarily elegant and pure, this wine tastes a lot more expensive than its pricetag!


Winemaker Notes: “The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard is the finest example of multi-clone Cabernet yet from the site. From an immediately attractive and rich nose of dark plum, black cherry, cocoa and very subtle oak to an entry with opulence of fruit and concision of acidity and tannin, to a mid-palate and finish with both length and balance, this Cabernet is a stunner. Where the Lencioni Vineyard Cabernet offering was red this wine is very dark in fruit; where Lencioni was polished and relatively soft, this wine shows some hardness of tannin in its youth.  Mouthfilling and grippy now, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard will mature beautifully, softening in tannin, over the next 15-20 years. We believe this wine showcases a vision for Cabernet Sauvignon that is in keeping with the world-class potential of the Livermore Valley.”

Also check out Steven Kent 2013 “Premier” Cabernet Sauvigon “Estate”

Click here or on the links above to order!