Mike Smith and Jim Barbour’s “Bench Pressing” Cabernets!

Bench Vineyards is a family venture between husband and wife, Sam Sharp and Allison Steltzner. The Estate consists of 30 acres and sits next door to Odette and some other great Stag’s Leap vineyards. The name “Bench Vineyards” comes from its unique topography – a true “benchland” vineyard located on the eastern side of the Napa Valley, directly below the Stag’s Leap Palisades.

The vineyard was planted in 1964.  Fast forward to 2011. The family hires two of Napa’s most sought after individuals – Vineyardist extraordinaire Jim Barbour and his team to “recultivate” the vineyard, and 100 point winemaker Mike Smith (Myriad, Carter, 12c, Scarlett, Quivet, etc.). Mike and Jim were very impressed with the potential and after trial blends in 2012 and 13 they officially released the first “commercial” wine in 2014.   The 2016 wines will really impress you, as the team has 3 years under its belt now!

Bench Vineyards 2016 “Circa 64” Estate Proprietary Red, Stag’s Leap
GGWC 124.99
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Mix & match with Bench Cabernet

Winery Notes: “A luxurious blend of three components from the Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Our inaugural release of this wine was in 2014, led by second-generation vintner Allison Steltzner and her husband Sam Sharp. They drew inspiration from the landscape of the property in creating Bench Vineyards project.  This wine provides amazing texture with lovely blue and red fruits, with a long elegant finish.  The aromas are complex with notes of dark fruit, violets, ripe plums and a hint of toasted cedar.  On the palate, this wine has flavors of rich and smokey pipe tobacco and a slight hint of cedar.  It is wine is well balanced with a beautiful structure and manages to glide smoothly across the palate, finishing with a long lingering finish.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Circa 64 is juicy, forward, and undeniably delicious. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cassis, bay leaf, violets, and spice all flow to a plump, opulent red that has excellent freshness and purity.”

Vinous 93 Points: “The 2016 Circa 64, Bench’s Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Petit Verdot blend, is gorgeous. Succulent dark cherry, lavender, spice, mint, and chocolate all run through this racy yet mid-weight Stags Leap red. The 2016 is pure class through and through.”

Bench Vineyards 2016 “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap
GGWC 149.99
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Mix & match with Bench Circa

Mike Smith crafted a Cabernet Sauvignon that is a masculine in style, yet maintains the elegance of the Stag’s Leap region hallmark.  The fruit is sourced from the estate’s older Martini Clone that was planted 30+ years ago. It offers striking aromas that jump out of the glass on impact.  The wine, although very full in body and loaded with lush blue and black stone fruits show great roundness and elegance not seen in many Napa Cabernets of this caliber.  The is an over-abundance of richness, purity and complexity in this wine leading to a long and elegant, fine-grained tannin finish. Limited production!

Vinous 94 Points: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big step up from the 2015. Deep and wonderfully nuanced, while retaining a mid-weight sense of structure, the 2016 delivers tons of Stags Leap character. Inky blue/purplish fruit, licorice, lavender and spice are all strikingly delineated. The firm tannins need time to soften, but that should not be an issue. In this vintage, all of the lots were fermented in barrel. More importantly, the 2016 points to a very bright future for Bench Vineyards. Winemaker Mike Smith has done a brilliant job with this super-expressive Cabernet.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a vineyard selection of the best blocks of Cabernet on the Steltzner Vineyard. Smoke tobacco, cassis, licorice, scorched earth and hints of toasty oak give way to a plump, rounded, opulent and beautifully pure Cabernet Sauvignon that’s going to be hard to resist on release.”

Winery Notes: “This stunning Cabernet comes from our southern most block of our Estate.  The vineyard was planted with cuttings acquired in the late 1960s from Louis Martini senior’s backyard in Saint Helena.   The second vintage produced of this wine, the aromas are intense and complex with rich cassis, blackberries, and cedar notes.There are juniper berries and notes of spice with good weight and structure.  A silky texture, and a clean, long finish provide ample tannins for aging.”

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What Exactly is Minerality?


By Roger C. Bohmrich, MW

published in wineauctionprices.com

The notion of minerality has become a valuable aspect of the rubric of wine tasting for some professionals. To understand this multidisciplinary and multimodal phenomenon, we need to turn to geology, botany, chemistry, oenology and sensory science. Minerality has been met with skepticism by scientists who point out that, whatever tasters mean by this term, it cannot be the actual taste of stones and fossils in soil. When a winemaker or critic says that a wine possesses the flavor of minerals, it is not only meant as a compliment but may also serve to identify a specific vineyard origin. Put another way, minerality has become a surrogate for terroir. That, unfortunately, does not make it easier to define objectively.

Where did the word come from? Surprisingly, it is difficult to say for certain. Even now, minerality is absent from most English dictionaries from Mirriam-Webster to the Encyclopedia Britannica – and, for that matter, Microsoft Word. On the other hand, mineralogy, the study of minerals, does have ancient origins. One of the early examinations of mineral substances was undertaken by Theophrastus, a disciple of Aristotle, in the 4 th century BCE. His tome, De Mineralibus or “On Stones,” gives physical descriptions of onyx, amber and quartz together with precious stones such as emerald, sapphire, diamond and ruby (Theophrastus, 1498). Pliny the Elder built on his work in Naturalis Historia of 77 CE. In the 16 th century, Georgius Agricola went further. In De Natura Fossilium (Agricola, 1546) – which has been called a foundational textbook of mineralogy – he wrote that “some minerals have a sweet taste,” halite (sodium) is salty, and copper is “very bitter and unpleasant.” He also observed that “certain minerals have an odor when struck with an iron or stone.” This has unexpected relevance to the discussion of minerality in wine. It was not until much later that certain key minerals were discovered in a chemical sense by Sir Humphry Davy (Davy, Encyclopedia Britannica). He is credited with isolating sodium and potassium (1807) along with calcium and magnesium (1808).
Oxford Dictionaries claim minerality has late 19 th century origins, but on investigation it appears this early usage related to mineral water, not wine. Oxford’s terse definition is simply: “a mineral quality.” For elaboration, we must turn to sources within the wine community. Wine Spectator offers the following: “Minerality is a tricky one to explain, but it refers to a group of non-fruit, non-herb, non-spice notes…Think of the taste of the sea that you get from crunchy sea salt or oysters. The smell of a sidewalk after it rains” (Dr. Vinny’s Archive, www.winespecator.com). We may suspect that minerality must be the phonetic equivalent of the French “la minéralité” but this leads us on a wild goose chase as notable contemporary French references fail to cite that term. As happens in the evolution of language, minerality appears to have been simply made up, in the not too distant past, by someone who evidently found it to be evocative of flavor characteristics which lacked a suitable one-word description.

One study utilizing Chablis wines (Rodrigues et al., 2015, cited in Parr, et al., 2018) found at the core the words terroir, chalky, freshness and shellfish. Winemakers associated the word with soil (stone) as well as acidity, gunflint and salty whereas stone was the primary emphasis for consumers. Professionals appear to sense minerality as an aroma, both to the nose and in the mouth through the retronasal passages, and as tastes on the palate. Pros attach “a positive connotation to minerality, while some consumers expressed neutral or even negative connotations.” This raises the question of how tasting notes of wine writers referring to mineral qualities are being interpreted by drinkers, especially those who do not read wine publications on a regular basis. True aficionados may well be absorbing the language of the “tribe” and accepting minerality at face value as both objectively accurate and a sign of quality. If cult wine growers and famous critics embrace the term, why should it be questioned?

Aside from differing individual perceptions of minerality, the very idea at its core is in doubt: “Minerality cannot be the taste of minerals, geological or nutrient, in any direct, literal way” (Parr et el., 2018). It is true that soils are composed of minerals and that vines do require certain ones, taking up what they need. The nutrient minerals the grapevine draws in through its roots pass through various stages and are altered by the fermentation process as well as cellar treatments and aging in barrel. The volume of minerals in grape must ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 g/l, less than 0.5% of juice constituents (Fig. 1).

Fig 1. Chemical composition of grape must (juice).
Moreno, J & Peinado, R (2012), Enological Chemistry.

The final product – the finished wine – contains merely 0.15 to 0.20%, and 0.40% at the maximum, of inorganic constituents. Potassium is the most significant mineral. In specific cases, wine may contain atypical concentrations of sodium chloride – as high as 1,000 mg/l rather than the usual 10 to 40 mg/l – if vineyards and wineries are situated in close proximity to a saltwater sea (Moreno et al., 2012). Human palates may neither detect saltiness in (white) wine until it reaches 570 mg/l nor recognize its true origin below 4790 mg/l (Bastian et al., 2011). In coastal vineyards, salt may find its way into a wine as a result of sea breezes which leave sodium deposits on grapes. Plausible examples might include the Greek island of Santorini, known for its bone-dry, saline Assyrtiko-based whites and Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Andalucía, Spain, the provenance of Manzanilla Sherry. A specialist website, Sherry Notes, claims that “Manzanilla typically displays more coastal aromas than a Fino, like seaspray, salt or even iodine.” However, there is a dearth of publicly available data to confirm the sodium content of these and other wines from sea coasts.

Even less known is that sodium, calcium and heavy metals may be added to grape must and wine from other sources: irrigation, vineyard treatments, chemical residues, fining agents (i.e., bentonite) and filtration as well as the addition of sulfur as sodium metabisulfite (Moreno et al., 2012; Waterhouse, et al., 2016). This further undermines the causality argument claiming that minerals in wine are derived exclusively from those naturally present in rocks and soil.

While some tasters insist they are tasting minerals drawn up from the earth, the essential truth is that “the actual amounts of the minerals in wine are minuscule, and they are virtually tasteless” (Parr et al., 2018). If this is the empirical reality, the term minerality must be a stand-in for other flavor characteristics. There is still a great deal to learn and verify, but research findings to date are expanding our understanding of the complex sensory aspects. Grape variety could be one determinant. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc wines have been found by tasters to be more “mineral” than Chardonnay – despite the supposed “mineral-laced” personalities of Chablis and other white Burgundies.

Salinity, as noted, is of particular importance and seems to be identifed in every trial. Elevated levels of acidity, both tartaric and malic, have been linked to the perception of minerality. If the malo-lactic conversion is blocked, entirely or partially, the unconverted malic acid could convey or reinforce a perceived mineral taste. Avoiding the malo is common practice with Riesling and some other white wines fermented in tank. In addition, succinic acid, a minor product of fermentation, is known to impart a salty rather than acidic taste and may contribute to perceptions of minerality. The role of pH remains to be proven unambiguously; yet, since low pH is a multiplier of acidic taste, it may well be another factor.

Also implicated is sulfur dioxide, especially free SO2 but also total (Parr et al., 2018). Sulfur compounds are present in wines found by tasters in studies to be “mineral,” notably polysulfanes and BMT (benzene methane thiol), linked by several researchers to wines described as having “flinty,” “gunflint” or “wet stone” odors (Tominaga et al., 2003). As geologist Alex Maltman has noted, flint – a type of silica – is by itself flavorless and odorless. “Gunflint” is used by some tasters to describe a certain aromatic accent – as in the “smoky” Loire Sauvignon, Pouilly-Fumé – yet this can only refer to the smell of striking flint to create a spark. The smell of a wet stone is actually petrichor, the organic or animal residue on its exterior. Sterilize a vineyard rock by soaking and washing it twice with distilled water and let it dry briefly; there will be little if any odor until “it becomes filmed with volatile compounds present in the atmosphere” (Maltman, 2013). Nevertheless, all of these odors could well be real rather than imagined; but that does not mean they are derived from minerals. The many factors which may act, together or singly, to accentuate or diminish the perception of minerality are laid out on the following diagram (Fig. 2). This should be seen as a template for discussion and further study, not the ultimate terminus.

Figure 2. Diagram of Perceived Minerality: Factors Favoring or Suppressing.
© Roger C. Bohmrich 2019

A professor of cognitive and behavioral biology has written that human beings “are incapable of being fully objective, even in our most mundane observations and impressions” (Koch, 2010). Sensory responses are among the most complex phenomena: they are governed by preconception, experience, our individual “hardware,” mood and health, and many other influences. Moreover, taste cannot be separated from culture, which encompasses language. We select arbitrary words – minerality among them – to express our multifaceted sensate impressions. Even if there are widely varying sensitivities and preferences, there are universal tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Sourness or acidity, as we have seen, is linked to perceptions of mineral flavors, as is bitterness, albeit less consistently. Saltiness “appears to be associated with minerality in every conceptual study” (Parr et al., 2018) and is therefore at the core of the discussion of minerals and wine.

Minerality is a loaded term questioned by academics and defended by instinctive wine tasters. Many of those who see it as a valid descriptor take it literally: the actual taste of minerals in vineyards. However, wine is not water, which transports minerals “as is” from below-ground sources into bottles labelled Gerolsteiner® or S. Pellegrino®. Despite a lack of scientific corroboration, exponents find minerality to be an appealing and convenient term. Fortunately, there is an emerging understanding of this phenomenon thanks to new research, even if some may resist its findings.

Now that you know more about it, come explore the aspect of minerality with us every Saturday from 1-5 PM in out tasting room! See the calendar below for the upcoming tasting schedule.



The Hilt is part of Jonata and Screaming Eagle owner Stan Kroenke’s wineries and has been receiving rave reviews

The Hilt 2016 “Old Guard” Pinot Noir “Estate”
GGWC 73.99
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Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “The 2016 The Hilt Pinot Noir Old Guard offers more Bing cherry and even hints of blue fruits, and is concentrated, rich, and incredible pure. Smoked earth, leafy herbs, violets, and underbrush all emerge from this rockingly complex, concentrated, yet ethereal beauty. It has ample structure, yet it’s so beautifully interwoven into the wine that you hardly notice. It needs 3-4 years of bottle age and will cruise for 10-15 years or more.”

Galloni 96 Points: “Expressive floral, savory and mineral notes give the 2016 The Hilt Pinot Noir Old Guard much of its super-distinctive personality. Hints of crushed rocks, graphite, blueberry and lavender develop in the glass. Above all else, though, the 2016 is a wine of structural intensity and persistence. I loved it.”

Robert Parker 95 Points: “The 2016 The Hilt Pinot Noir Old Guard was my favorite of these wines from The Hilt, unfurling in the glass with a lovely bouquet of plum, rich soil, truffle, licorice and nori. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, its rich chassis of tannins cloaked in a youthfully primary but attractively sapid core of fruit, its mid-palate deep and layered, and its finish bright and sappy. The Old Guard derives from later-harvested parcels and was fermented with 40% whole clusters. Winemaker Matt Dees observes that, while the Vanguard emphasizes texture, the Old Guard emphasizes structure. 430 cases were produced.”

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Best Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc to date!

Winery Notes:  “We approach the creation of our Sauvignon Blanc with the aim of crafting a wine that is as structured and cerebral as it is dynamic and tantalizing for the senses. This is an incredibly high bar for this noble grape, to which we give the greatest respect. To achieve this goal, our 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from iconic vineyards in Napa Valley including Stagecoach and Hyde Vineyards and from Farina Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain, along with fruit from Spottswoode Estate. To preserve the integrity and individuality of each site, the wines were fermented in a combination of oak and stainless steel barrels, a clay amphora and three different sizes of concrete egg. The result is a cellar-worthy treasure that is both stately and sublime, with dazzling aromas, effortless poise and remarkable complexity.”

Spottswoode 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Napa/Sonoma
GGWC 44.99
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The Spottswoode Sauv Blanc opens with aromatic notes of white peaches, grapefruit and orange blossoms. The wine is medium-bodied with a radiant texture and delightful freshness, the palate chants of white peaches and citrus that are bright and focused, leading into along mineral-laced finish.

Winemaker Notes: “This 2018 is rich and powerful, built on a backbone of great acidity. The nose jumps out of the glass with vibrant Meyer lemon, pink grapefruit, white peach, pears, and nectarines. The mouth is taut yet nicely textured, with creamy guava, lemon curd, and a wonderful blend of fruitiness, wet stone minerality, and a structure that persists in a very long and salivating finish. This Sauvignon Blanc can be enjoyed both now and into the future.”

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Real Fireworks Syrah

A British couple settled in the hills of Mendocino where they found  land with schist-like Cote–Rotie soils on a windblown cool mountaintop overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which would become their “estate” vineyard.   With the assistance of Justin Smith (Saxum), Crole Meredith  & Steve Lagier (Lagier-Meredith), Mike Officer (Carlisle) and Wells Guthrie (Copain) they set out to plant what has become a much regarded Rhone-varietal vineyard.  Wells helped develop and maintain the vineyard.  Under the tutelage of the great Roar winemaker (Scott Shapley) they have put some very good quality and well-priced wines on the wine map!

Halcon 2017 Syrah “Alturas” Estate Mendocino
GGWC 33.99
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The Alturas is a wonderful wine, offering up a youthful but superb bouquet of violets, cracked pepper, grilled meat and crunchy cassis. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, concentrated and tensile, with fine-grained tannins, a deep core of crunchy fruit and a long, sapid finish. While this is already delicious, it’s emphatically a young wine, and the real fireworks will begin when it has five years on the clock. Cropped at 1.25-tons per acre and fermented with 50% whole clusters, this lovely Syrah from Halcón wouldn’t be out of place in a flight of great Cornas. It’s also shockingly good value.

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points: “The 2017 Alturas (97% Syrah and 3% Viognier) is deep ruby-colored and opaque, with notes of blackberries, green herbs, bay leaf, and pepper. It’s exotic, sappy, and interesting, yet again, like a lot of these 2017s, is on the edge of being green.

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Three Times is a charm for Celia Welch’s Howell Mountain Cabernet

It was 1993 when Dave Castiel (pron. Cast-ee-all), gazed into his crystal and spied Freemark Abbey, as Mesopotamian mythology’s controller of karma and time, he saw an opportunity and slyly orchestrated a chance meeting of Kathleen and Dave Dicesaris over a tasting of fine wine. they bonded and eventually married. Years later and after a lifetime of equally serendipitous moments, Dave and Kathleen discovered a property on Howell Mountain filled with promise but in need of tender loving care. they envisioned a winegrowing estate and began restoration to return the land to natural habitat and develop a vineyard to serve as inspiration for future vintages of Castiel Estate.  They assembled a team to realize their vision, including winemaker Celia Welch (Scarecrow, Corra, Keever, 2480, Rewa, etc) and ace viticulturist “Guru” Jim Barbour.

Castiel 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
GGWC 179.99
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This 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is the third release from Castiel, made by ace-winemaker Celia Welch. It takes life from its ideally situated, west-facing vineyard on Howell Mountain where the soil is comprised of volcanic tuff and riddled with an ancient rock.  This third release displays classic Howell Mountain character in its many facets, it shows black cherry, bayberry, cinnamon tea, espresso beans, and cocoa aromas all evolving simultaneously, all intertwining in a way that creates a beautiful, complex impression. On the palate, soft, polished tannins envelop a very solid backbone. An intriguing interplay of savory (anise, earth, coffee) and sweet fruit/perfumed notes echo the complexity of the aromas. The finish is broad and polished, with lingering flavors of black fruit, chocolate, and fresh juicy raspberries.

Celia Welch Notes: ”This wine was created entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the steep, shallow soils of Howell Mountain, on the eastern flanks of Napa Valley. Three separate clones of Cabernet were harvested between September 30 and October 6, 2016 and were kept separate through fermentation and for the first year of maturation in French oak barrels. The wines were carefully blended and returned to barrel for additional maturation prior to bottling in May of 2018.”

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The Last C-Beck Ever!

Corey Beck grew up in the Napa Valley in and around the vineyards his grandfather planted at Chateau Montelena.  He started his winemaking career under Scott McLeod at Rubicon (Francis Ford Copolla).  His own Cabernet Sauvignon is an amazing wine sourced from one of the most sought after vineyards in the Napa Valley nearby the Hourglass, 3 Palms and Switchback Ridge vineyards. This wine’s quality is much higher than its price tag!  Sadly this is the last vintage of C-Beck ever.  Corey is now the CEO for Francis Ford Copolla’s entire winery venture and has no time for his own brand anymore, which is very sad to see this one go. Another reason to jump on this wine and stock up!  It is value & quality in a bottle!

C-Beck 2015  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail 53.00- GGWC 49.99
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The wine’s aromas jump out of the glass upon impact.  Gobs of black stone fruit with hints of sweet vanilla greet you on the gorgeous nose.  This full-bodied wine is big and bold, yet silky and luscious loaded with extremely well-balanced black stone fruits (black currant, dark plum and blackberry) and the right touch of acid that will allow this wine to age nicely.  The wine finishes long with soft and supple tannins.  Only 264 cases of this great wine were produced.

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Why is your wine crying?

Why is your wine crying?
Scientists say shock waves likely play a role

Alcohol content, the pour, and shape of the glass are also factors in wine tears.

By Jennifer Ouellette
from ArsTechnica


Wine tears are due to a difference in surface tension across the top of the wine, resulting from the alcohol evaporating faster than the water in the wine.

Perhaps you’ve noticed a ring of clear liquid near the top of your glass of wine, with droplets forming and dropping back into the wine. These are “tears of wine,” also known as wine legs or “fingers.” Physicists have been intrigued by them for over 150 years, and while the basic mechanism is understood, new research indicates that shock-wave dynamics may also play a role in their formation.

UCLA engineer Andrea Bertozzi described her recent work on the subject today in Boston at the 2019 March meeting of the American Physical Society, the largest annual physics conference in the country. “There’s been a flurry of activity over the last 30 years trying to understand more about this phenomenon, but nothing that really addressed the dynamics of the actual tear formation,” she said. Adding shock waves into the explanatory mix “would explain why sometimes one sees tears of wine and sometimes one does not.”

British physicist James Thomson (elder brother to Lord Kelvin) first noticed wine tears in 1855, although they’re technically known as the Marangoni effect after Italian physicist Carlo Marangoni. The phenomenon is also responsible for the infamous “coffee ring effect,” which has also generated much interest among physicists. It’s most notable in wines (or other spirits like rum) with alcohol content at least as high as 13.5 percent. (That’s because alcohol has a lower surface tension than water.) If you spread a thin film of water on your kitchen counter and place a single drop of alcohol in the center, you’ll see the water flow outward, away from the alcohol. The difference in their alcohol concentrations creates a surface tension gradient, driving the flow.

Wine is basically water and alcohol, along with acids, dissolved sugars, and other compounds that lend color and flavor. The first step in creating wine tears is swirling wine to coat the inside of the glass—a common practice among oenophiles to enhance the flavor. Thanks to capillary action the wine will start to climb up the side of the glass. Both the water and alcohol evaporate as it does so, but since alcohol evaporates falser, the alcohol concentration gradually decreases. This increases the surface tension of that wine so more is drawn upward because the wine below still has a high alcohol content and hence lower surface tension.

A drop of alcohol at the center has lower surface tension than the surrounding water, creating a surface tension gradient.

Tears form and gravity kicks in when the droplets’ weight exceeds the force of the effect, causing them to fall back into the glass. Bertozzi drew an analogy to driving in the rain. “You have water on the windshield of the car, and the wind creates a surface stress that pushes the rain up the front of the windshield,” she said. “And gravity is pulling it back down.”

That’s the standard explanation, but some nuanced complications have emerged in recent years. For instance, a 2015 study looked into the impact of thermal effects at play (i.e., the temperature of the room). The study found that evaporative cooling is also a significant contributing factor to the formation of wine tears. The first quantitative study of the wine tears phenomenon appeared in 1992. But Bertozzi noticed that the equations typically used to describe wine tears didn’t account for all the interesting physics—namely, they were missing such factors as the balance between surface tension, the surface tension gradient, and gravity, or the curvature of the glass.

For her own theoretical work on the phenomenon, Bertozzi drew on earlier work she’d done in the 1990s while at Duke University, with experiments involving silicon oil on a wafer. The wafer was placed at an incline, so when the oil was heated, it was colder on the top and warmer on the bottom—a thermal gradient, essentially the same kind of Marangoni stress as the surface tension gradient that leads to wine tears.

“Lo and behold, we were able to produce these unusual waves traveling up the plate against gravity—what we call undercompressive shocks,” said Bertozzi.

The surface tension gradient behind terms of wine is essentially the same underlying mechanic dynamics. To test that theory, Bertozzi and her team used port wine in a martini glass with a 65-degree incline. They observed a circular wave forming—similar to the waves that formed in the silicon oil on a wafer—and traveling up the glass. “Fingers,” aka tears of wine, then formed because of the instability of the wave, eventually draining back into the glass. “We believe such waves are some of the dominant effects when you see tears of wine,” she said.

The next step is to partner with experimentalists to further test her theory about the complex dynamics of wine tears—which may or may not involve imbibing a glass or two.

If all of this isn’t “shocking” enough for you… Come join us at one of our upcoming in-store wine tastings and we’ll investigate this phenomenon together! See the complete tasting calendar below.


An Under $55.00 Napa Cab Stunner

Almost 20 years ago Scott Palazzo was asked by Thomas Keller, “Chef Extraordinaire” and owner of French Laundry and Per Se restaurants to craft a wine exclusively for him!  That resulted in amazing exposure for this small winery and the rest-as-they-say-is-history. Ever since then Scott’s wine has received great accolades and is selling like hot cakes.  Last year he added the first Left Bank (Cabernet Sauvignon ) to his portfolio, and it sold out in no-time (Quality/Price Point).  The 2016 is even better, and again very limited! This wine tastes like an 80+ Napa Cab,  so I suggest… to hurry on this one!

Palazzo 2016 “Left Bank” Red Cuvée Napa Valley
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
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Winemaker Notes: “The Palazzo 2016 ‘Left Bank’ Red Cuvée Master Blend is ‘generous on the palate’ …with lots of rich & delicious Napa Cabernet Sauvignon fruit! Lush black cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose and palate, along with hints of chocolate, coffee, and cassis notes! The wine enjoys a freshness, with the enticing ‘Signature Palazzo Wine aromatics & finesse’…that all Palazzo Wines have! The beautiful floral tones and spice come from the Merlot and Cabernet Franc fruit blended in from the Carneros Region! The mouthfeel is plush & full-bodied, with integrated sweet tannins and great acidity… with a long and distinctive finish!”

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The much-anticipated release of the 2017 DuMOL
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Syrah are finally here!

2017 Wester Reach Chardonnay
GGWC 61.99 net
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The 2017 Chardonnay Wester Reach comes from the Russian River Valley, it has terrific notes of citrus and Meyer lemon, and hints of tart pineapple as well a medium-bodied, fresh, focused, incredibly pretty style on the palate. With bright acidity and plenty of vibrancy, it’s slightly more forward and fruit-driven compared to some of the other releases here. It’s a great introduction into the wines of this terrific estate.

Winemaker Notes: “From the lowest-yielding vintage in twenty years, there’s inherent concentration here, a depth of flavor coming from the vines themselves rather than winemaking artifice. But there’s also a firmness and seriousness that offsets this mid-palate weight and extends its citrus-oil-infused finish.  The wine has great lines: focused, driven, mineral-laden and pithy, with a level of cool-climate fruit intensity that is very rare. This level of quality and distinctive character is hard to achieve in a larger-production blended wine, but is a testament to our pedigreed vineyards, precise farming, twenty years’ experience, and patient, sensitive craftsmanship.”

Vineyard sources: 32% Dutton-Hansen, 24% Dumol Estate, 20% Dutton Ranch “Jentoft”, 12% Charles Heintz, 12% Lorenzo

DuMol 2017 Wester Reach Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
GGWC 72.99 net
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Incredibly aromatic and complex, the 2017 Pinot Noir Wester Reach offers loads of spiced red fruits, incense, wood smoke, and forest floor notes as well as a medium-bodied, fresh, focused, yet still pleasure bent style. It’s a classic DuMol Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 5-7 years. This cuvée comes all from the Russian River Valley, from multiple clones, and spent a year in 40% new French oak.

Winemaker Notes: “The wine is dynamic, alive and precise. It begins in a coastal style–sleek, focused and linear. The deep entry expands along strong lines with good drive and detail to its red and black fruit flavors. As it fully opens, natural Russian River textures and volume takes hold – broad, supple and layered. Savory elements steer the wine toward complexity that will continue to build in bottle.”

Vineyard sources: 34% DuMOL Estate, 24% Dutton-Upp Road, 22% Widdoes, and 20% Occidental Road.

2017 Wild Mountainside Syrah,  Russian River Valley
GGWC 62.99 net
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Black cherry, boysenberry, lavender, violet and green peppercorn are all present in the aroma. There’s lovely clarity of flavor and purity of cool climate fruit: cassis and blackberry offset by thyme, tobacco and cocoa nib. A lushness of texture takes over with lingering black fruits and lilac on the peppery, extended finish. Drink this soon after release or enjoy the reward of 10+ years of aging.

Vineyard Sources:  57% Hoppe-Kelly, 36% Timbervine Ranche & 7% Greywackle

Winemaker Notes: “Black cherry, boysenberry, lavender, violet and green peppercorn are all present in the aroma. There’s lovely clarity of flavor and purity of cool climate fruit: cassis and blackberry offset by thyme, tobacco and cocoa nib. A lushness of texture takes over with lingering black fruits and lilac on the peppery, extended finish. Drink this soon after release or enjoy the reward of 10+ years of aging.”

94 Points Jeb Dunnuck: “There are three Syrahs from Smith. His 2017 Syrah Wild Mountainside comes from a handful of sites in the Russian River and spent 15 months in a mix of one-third new French oak, 20% amphora, and the balance in used barrels. This rocking effort offers classic cool-climate notes of blue fruits, violets, ground pepper, and game. With medium to full body, beautiful tannins, and a seamless texture, it’s going to keep for over a decade.”

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