REALLY IT STILL EXISTS – GREAT QUALITY, UNDER $45 Napa Cabernet by A 99+ Winemaker



The legend of the Old Poodle Dog… Back in the Gold Rush days of San Francisco the most popular French restaurant was named Le Poulet D’Or (which actually mean the Golden Chicken). Many of the miners found the unfamiliar language of the restaurant’s name difficult to pronounce so it was mangled into (Old) Poodle Dog, and soon the restaurant had a new name.

The Old Poodle Dog became one of the most fashionable eateries in San Francisco and resided in several different locations over the years. Sadly when the blight of Prohibition appeared the proprietor closed the doors exclaiming “Great cuisine cannot be served without wine.” I couldn’t agree more.

Winemaker Phil Titus from Chappellet greatness for the 2 decades, has been at the winemaking helm at Coho since 2012 and it really shows.

Coho 2014 “Old Poodle Dog” Cabernet, Napa 
Retail 48.00 – GGWC 44.99
FREE SHIPPINNG on 6 or more
use code OPD during checkout

Since it is a Coho wine, and it is the much anticipated 2014 vintage, I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about this wine. This blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot was sourced from the same vineyards Coho works with for its designated varietal program. This is a fun, but very serious wine that comes with an economical friendly price tag. On the nose one is greeted by intense black stone fruit and chocolate notes. On the palate this youngster shows great finesse and overflows with bright black currant, mocha and a touch of toasty vanilla notes. Full in body this youngster will please both wallet and palate.

Also check out these other great Coho wines (assort for free shipping)


Click here or on the links above to order!


Philippe Melka’s most amazing white ever

“Five rows of Viognier span the top of the north ridge 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.”

Skipstone 2014 Viognier “Estate” 
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 57.99
Use code SKIP during checkout

The 2014 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.”

Click here or on the links above to order!





Owner, winemaker Curt Schalchlin has been producing high quality Rhone varietals at a very respectable price level for years.  Curt worked for some of the best winemakers in industry and went solo about over a decade ago, and with a very strong showing in his Sans Liege and Groundwork productions, and the rest as they say is history.  His latest Prophetess XII/XIII received rave reviews from press and consumers alike – HURRY for this one!

Sans Liege Prophetess XII/XIII Syrah Blend 
Retail 50.00 – GGWC 47.99
Use code PROPHETESS at checkout

Winemaker Notes: “The fire cracks and his gaze follows the twirling smoke upward. Through the twisted juniper overhead there is a glimpse starlight in the indigo sky. Scents of confectionery, blue fruit, cinnamon graham cracker, fennel, smoked meat, dark chocolate and plum hang in the air. Turning the spice covered rabbit on the spit he bites off a piece of venison jerky and follows it with a big gulp of cola from the molded glass bottle in his weathered hand. It took nearly the whole day to ascend to this spot, but it was worth it.”

Robert Parker 94 Points: “Made from 73% Syrah & 27% Mourvedre that’s from the 2012 and 13 vintages, the Prophetess saw 22-34 months in 41% new French oak. This inky colored blockbuster has tons of ripe, sexy notes of blackberry jam, licorice and smoked meats in a full-bodied, plush and luxuriously textured package. It’s one of the top wines I’ve tasted from winemaker Curt and should drink nicely over the coming 4-5 years, and I’m sure it will evolve beyond that as well. Readers looking for rich, textured, character filled wines that won’t break the bank need to check out these latest releases from winemaker Curt Schalchlin.”

Don’t miss the other Sans Liege releases as well!

Click here or on the links above to order!




Hey Aldo, when you come by on Friday, bring me a couple pounds of walnuts, some fruit and vegetables, two dozen eggs and a “black chicken”. And thus went one of the hundreds of inquiries during prohibition when selling wine was not legal. Aldo Biale called his jugs of Zin a “Black Chicken” to avoid any unwanted attention from regulators. Today Black Chicken is 100% Legal, so you can get this legendary creation by name.


FYI – Aldo died in 2009, but in his memory the Black Chicken lives on!  If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History you can even see a image of Aldo with his old punch down stick and a picker’s box!

Biale 2015 Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Napa Valley 
Retail 50.00 – GGWC 47.99
Use code BIALE during checkout

Full of Blackberries, vibrant black cherry, dried berries, maple, brown and black spices, cinnamon and ginger bread. The entry is soft and gives way to supple round tannins with a delectable center and persistence of fruit. The lovely finish is the signature of this elegant, surprisingly feminine, and remarkably balanced Zinfandel that is immediately drinkable and worthy of 5 to 7 more years of cellar time.

Click here or on the links above to order!


Baah-baah Black Sheep, got any… WINE?


It all began in 1990 when Clay & Tersilla (T) met while working at a large Napa winery. In 1995 they were married and purchased a property – with sheep – The deal was that the owner only would sell it, if they kept the sheep. So when it came time name the winery, T said “Inherit the Sheep” since we will not inherit anything else in our lives. The rest, as you know is history. With an ace winemaker behind the wheel, Inherit The Sheep has produced some amazing wines over the past years and Chris is producing A+ wines from the 4 acre vineyard.

Inherit the Sheep 2014 “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville Napa Valley 
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SHEEP at check out

The previous year’s re-grafting continues to result in exceptional yields and the quality of the 14 vintage has gone up even more than I could have hoped. In fact, this vintage is flat out mind-boggling!  On the nose you are welcomed by gobs of gorgeous black fruit, a hint of chocolate and a touch of underbrush that balance out the bouquet.  On the palate this bold, lush wine serves up a bright and powerful platter of gorgeous black currant and black berry fruit laced with dark chocolate, anise and a touch of leather. The palate overflows with flavors that linger into a long and complex finish. As always LIMITED PRODUCTION!!

Click here or on the links above to order!


Phenolics in Wine

“It’s Greek to me!”

You might hear winemakers talk about phenolics and to the general wine drinking population, they might as well be speaking Greek. But a little knowledge can a long way towards your general understanding of why wine looks and taste the way it does, as well as make you stand apart from the oenophile pack.

Phenols and phenolic acids are found in the pulp, skin, seeds and stems of grapes.  They are chemical compounds that effect aroma, flavor and texture. While the chemistry is complex, they are benzene rings. Many other compounds can hang off of them and that is what makes wines taste different from each other.

Phenolics are leached out when grapes are macerated and pressed. Longer maceration periods and harder pressings will create higher concentrations of phenolics. As such, red wines have greater phenolic intensity but skin fermented white wines also have a lot.

There are hundreds of phenols in wine. Flavonoids are the most important and within this group there are three principle types: anthocyanins, tannins and catechins.

Anthocyanins are largely responsible for the pigmentation in red wine. They do not add to the aroma or flavor. A wine’s color is in part determined by the ionization (the basic high school chemistry definition of ionization is the loss or gain of electrons to form a positive or negative charge) of anthocyanins of its pigments.

The basic wine colors

Here’s the tricky part. Wine has three pigments, red, blue and clear. Wines with higher acidity have a higher occurrence of ionization that creates a brighter red hue. On the other hand, wines with lower acidity are not as ionized and will have more of a purple color. Over time, anthocyanins react with other compounds to cause wine to turn more of a brick color and eventually, brown.

Tannins are what cause wine to seem astringent and they effect both the flavor and mouth feel. They are present in skins, stems and pits. Naturally occurring tannins are considered proanthocyanindins because anthocyanins are released as they heat up in an acidic solution, which is what happens to wine as it ferments. As wine ages, tannins form long polymer chains. You might hear people say that tannins break down over time but the opposite actually occurs and they become too large for people to perceive so they seem to soften. Also, anthocyanins and tannins create polymers that continue to grow until the whole molecule becomes unstable and falls out of the solution. This is how sediment is formed.

Oak has hydrolysable tannins that are created by ellagic and gallic acid found in wood and this is one of the reasons why winemakers ferment and age wine in oak barrels. New barrels or barrels that have only been used once have the highest level of tannin.

Vineyard fog

Catechins are the third component of the trio.  They are mostly in seeds and account for their bitter taste. In combination with anthocyanins and tannins, catechins stabilize color. Importantly, they play a role in fighting microbial activity in diseases such as downy mildew. Grapes from cool damp climates have evolved to produce more have more catachins than those from hot, arid areas.

Two important non-flavonoid phenols are stilbenoids and hydroxycinnammic acids. Of the hydroxycinnammic acids, tartaric acid is the most discussed as it plays a crucial role in the stabilization of wine. You will sometimes notice tartaric crystals (tartrates) in your glass or on the cork. These are formed during fermentation when tartaric acid attaches to lees and other particles. They are harmless.

Resveratrol is the most common stilbenoid. It is found in grape skins so there is a higher density in wines with increased skin contact. Like catechins, it provides defense against hostile microbes, especially those found in – you guessed it – cool, damp regions.

As mentioned, there are many other phenolics found in wine but these are the ones that are the most valuable for your own knowledge and will score you points if you want to impress a winemaker!

Frank Melis
Golden Gate Wine Cellars

P.S. As always, I am here to assist you and answer any questions that you may have about wine! Please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 415-337-4083 or email me at


97 Point rated Gem


Bibiana González Rave is the founder and winemaker of Cattleya Wines. She is also the wife of star winemaker Jeff Pisoni.  Born and raised in Colombia and trained as a winemaker in France, she moved to California in 2007 to settle into making extraordinary wines.  In her words: “Since my early teenage years, my dream has been to make wine. At a very young age I was fortunate enough to begin learning how to make wine in France. I trained myself while working with some amazing winemakers who showed me the importance of loving the land, how to respect the farming itself, and to focus on the many details that go into making each drop of wine in each and every bottle.”  She is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay winemaker at Pahlmeyer and produces “Shared Notes” wines with husband Jeff Pisoni.  All those ingredients together and you have one of the best winemakers in the country!

Cattleya 2014 Syrah “Soberanes” Santa Lucia Highlands 
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 74.99
Use code CATTLEYA during checkout

OK to mix with other Cattleya wines

The wine offers up an amazing bouquet of exotic fruit that jumps out of the glass. The color is bold and intense and the flavors on the palate just reflect the same – intense black stone fruit, a touch for floral quality and a hint of meaty-bacon fat.  Densely concentrated, yet incredibly elegant at the same time.  The flavors go on and on into a gorgeously long finish with silky tannins!

Robert Parker 97 Points: “Possessing a touch of La Mouline-like violet and floral characteristics, the utterly sensational 2014 Syrah Soberanes Vineyard offers decadent notes of jammy blackberries, creme de cassis, vanilla bean, damp earth and pepper to go with a full-bodied, layered, beautifully pure and seamless style on the palate. It has a wealth of fruit, yet it also has a great mid-palate, building, chalky tannin and a terrific finish. This gorgeous effort has both richness and elegance, and will drink well for a decade or more. Pure class.”

Make sure to check out the other highly rated Cattleya wines:

Click here or on the links above to order!



Byron Kosuge has been making wine for over 3 decades now.  He honed his skills at various great wineries in California and France.  While working in Carneros he befriended two guys who ran a vineyard management company.  When they planted a small vineyard next to their work shop, Byron came up with the name “The Shop” and the rest (15 years later) is history.  Byron has created a good following for his brand, and so have many of my customers. But his Chardonnay making goes back 30 years and has been his big passion, although he did not add this to his portfolio till 2008.  The 2014 is truly amazing and a great wine for your Buck!

B Kosuge 2014 Pinot Noir The Shop, Carneros 
Retail 38.00 – GGWC 34.99
Use shipping code SHOP upon check out

The wine emerges from the glass with dark red stone fruit a hint of spice, nuttiness and licorice. This is lush and  fleshy, Pinot Noir that is loaded with class and pedigree. The wine is medium to full in body and flavor and finishes long and strong!

Winemaker notes: 2014 was a good year for Pinot Noir all over California. It was an early vintage and fairly ripe in character, but with enough freshness and acidity that the wines are lively. They seem pretty approachable young, more so than the brooding 2013s were. The 2014 Shop is fresher and more energetic than the 2013 or the 2012 for that matter. As the vines at The Shop mature (they were planted 16 years ago), the flavors are becoming deeper and, curiously, the fruit seems to demand a lighter hand with extraction.

Also, don’t miss the Kosuge 2014 Chardonnay!

Click here or on the links above to order!


Mark Herold’s HOT NEW 94 Point Cab Release

Kevin Carriker started out in a wine store in San Francisco, making his way via some Napa and Bordeaux wineries where he did everything from working the tasting room, cleaning and topping barrels to participating in the harvest.  In 1990 he worked a crush at Grgich Hills and from here he decided it was time for the big leagues. In 1994 he made his first wine and in 1998 he purchased the Coombsville property.  With the help of “ace winemaker” Mark Herold he has  been producing killer Cabs for years. Mark does not need any intro, but for those who don’t know him, he worked at Phelps, Hestan before creating Merus (he sold this years ago) and becoming the full-time winemaker at Kamen in 2001 where he has made amazing high-scoring wines and of course his own well-regarded Mark Herold label.

Kobalt 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Retail 100.00 – GGWC 91.99
Use code KOBALT at checkout

Opaque black/purple in color, with nuances of cassis, blackberry, graphite and black cherry, which are framed by toasty vanilla oak. The deep berry flavors are lively on the palate, focusing on cherry and violet. The rich finish and ripe tannins lead to a pure balance of lively acids and focused fruit.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “Coming from the Stagecoach Vineyard and some other terroirs in Coombsville, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is made by Mark Herold, and his style obviously leans toward super-extraction. A dense purple color, with notes of roasted coffee, chocolate, blackcurrant, blackberry, new saddle leather and spice, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, opulent and best drunk over the next 15-20 years.”

Anthony Galloni 94 Points: “Kobalt’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Mark Herold wine built on super-ripe, inky fruit, soft contours and notable concentration. Inky blue/purplish fruit, licorice, lavender, bittersweet chocolate and sweet French oak are front and center in this full-throttle, unapologetically rich Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Click here or on the links above to order!


SORRY, LAST CALL 4 Thomas Rivers Brown’ 95 Point CAB


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. (FYI: Post Parade refers to the moment when thoroughbred horses walk onto the racetrack minutes before stepping into the starting gate.)

Post Parade 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Retail 100.00 – GGWC 93.99
Use code PP13CS at checkout

Amazingly intense wine from start to finish. Dark purple hue and stunning aromas of black stone fruit, chocolate and a touch of toastiness greet you on impact. This is an extraordinarily well-crafted wine that is lush on the palate, loaded with gorgeous jammy black stone fruits, chocolate, a touch of espresso and toasty vanilla that are in-sync with the right touch of acid.  The wine lingers on the finish for a good 30 seconds!  Only 400 cases produced.

Robert Parker 95 Points:  “For a wine of this quality, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Post Parade is a fabulous bargain by Napa Valley standards. There are 430 cases of this wine, which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 20 months in 90% new French oak (50% of which was Taransaud and 40% Ermitage). Coming from the Tench Vineyard, an Oakville vineyard made famous by Russell Bevan, this wine has an opaque purple color and a glorious nose of blueberry and blackberry liqueur intermixed with charcoal, camphor, a touch of toast and plenty of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. It is full-bodied and displays terrific intensity and purity as well as velvety tannins. This heady, multi-layered wine is already drinking beautifully but should continue to do so for another 15+ years.”

Click here or on the links above to order!