Inaugural 2 Barrel Napa Cabernet Star is born!

The first grapes were planted in the 1880’s, and the vineyard continuously farmed until Prohibition. Mike Yates’ family purchased the property in 1950, and Mike took over farming of the property in 1995, and began selective replanting in 1999. The vineyard is carefully tended by Mike and his daughters Whitney and Mary.

Vintone winemaker
Sean Foster

Vintone 2015 Cabernet “Yates Family” Mount Veeder, Napa Valley
GGWC 124.99
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The 2015 Vintone “Yates Family” Cabernet is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, that was aged 24 months in 50% neutral and 50% new (tight grain, light toast) French oak.  The deep garnet-purple colored 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Yates Vineyard has a beautifully scented aroma of bright violets and chocolate with hints of cassis, blackberry compote, a whiff of tobacco and vanilla. The full-bodied palate is loaded with lush blackstone fruit, somewaht firm and solidly structured with ripe, silky grained tannins supporting the aromatic layers.  The wine has good 30 second finish.  Well done for a first release!

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Message in a bottle… Value… & FREE SHIPPING TOO!

This is the eighth vintage of Vaughn Duffy’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. The 2017 is a blend of seven great vineyards that span this world renowned Pinot Noir region. The vineyards extent through various microclimates of the AVA and showcase the diversity of this unique growing region.

Vaughn Duffy 2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
GGWC 39.99
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The 2017 version shows tremendous fruit intensity. The black cherry, red plum and toasted spice aromatics hint at the fruit and spice killer combo in this wine. The silky textures open up notes strawberry preserves and cranberry on the palate. This is a wine that has a clear presence and is a testament to the strengths of the Russian River Valley appellation.

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$25.00 OFF OUR Holiday Bubbly Six-Pack “Special”

The holidays are around the corner and what better to celebrate with than some great Champagnes that will not break the bank!

Retails normally for 285.00 – It is yours for 259.99!



Objective vs. Subjective in Wine Tasting

Objective vs. Subjective in Tasting

By my long time friend and Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser

It’s a common scenario: an industry person is leading a consumer tasting. During the tasting two people in the crowd have completely different responses when asked about one of the wines. And their descriptions are wildly different compared to that of said industry person–the one who theoretically should have a clue. The crowd then turns to said industry person for answers, wisdom, and guidance. Their response: “It’s OK. Everybody is different. Besides, wine is all subjective.”

I’m calling foul here. Saying wine is “all subjective” is a not only a monumental cop out, it’s simply wrong. It also reinforces widely held urban myths that wine as a subject is impossible to understand and that industry pros like us are making everything up. And while one could argue that the entire wine experience is subjective because it’s based on personal response and interpretation, there is a great deal of it that can be precisely measured.
Before getting even more carried away, it might be useful to examine the terms objective and subjective as they apply to the tasting experience. To do so I’ll use the Master Sommelier deductive tasting grid–without the conclusion segments–as a guideline to determine which criteria fall under the objective category vs. subjective. There may also be a third category. More on that in a moment.

To start, working definitions of the terms “objective” and “subjective” as they apply to all experience are needed. A quick check on Google, the source of all human knowledge and wisdom, turned up the following:

Objective experience: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.”

Subjective experience: refers to the emotional and cognitive impact of a human experience as opposed to an objective experience which are the actual events of the experience. … For instance, we are all having a subjective experience whenever we are experiencing pain.”

Now let’s map these definitions over to the tasting experience. In wine, certain criteria can be isolated, identified, and quantified through lab analysis. We’ll call these “objective.” Other criteria are described by a taster using their personal and unique life memories. These are “subjective” as they are based on individual interpretation and are different for everyone.

I want to introduce a third category at this point that combines both objective and subjective experience in regards to tasting. These criteria display extremes (little or none vs. a lot) that can easily be identified and are clearly objective. However, the degrees in between the two extremes are more open to interpretation and therefore subjective. Hence, objective-subjective.

Hilma af Klint, Group IV, No. 3, 1907

The Grid

Following is the deductive grid broken down into objective elements that can be quantified, subjective elements that are always shaped by personal interpretation, and finally those that fall into the third objective-subjective category.


Clarity: in wine is the result of filtration and fining—or the lack thereof. The difference between a clear wine placed next to a cloudy or hazy wine is easy to discern and agree on, as is that in between. Objective.

Brightness: the brightness scale in the deductive grid goes from dull to brilliant with several stages in between. While the extremes are easy to identify if placed next to each other, the degrees in between are definitely not. Subjective – Objective.

Color: color scales for all major styles of wine have long been established. The actual names for colors may vary, depending on the source. However, anyone in the industry can connect the dots between the color of a wine and a commonly used name. Objective.

Secondary colors: observing the presence of green or sliver in a young white wine or garnet highlights in an older red wine is fairly straight forward. Objective.

Rim variation: there is always differentiation between the color at the core of a glass of red wine and that at the rim or edge. Objective

Sediment: regardless of tartaric acid crystals or actual sediment from non-filtration or age, sediment can easily be seen and identified. Objective

Tears/legs: here for the first time we’re in the subjective universe. The intent of observing the legs/tears/Marangoni effect in a glass of wine is to gain a first impression of the body/weight of the wine, which is related to the level of alcohol, glycerin, and/or the presence of residual sugar. However, observing legs-tears generates a general impression at best and presupposes multiple things including quality glassware that is cleaned and polished. Subjective


Faults: while degree of sensitivity to common wine faults is unique to the individual, the presence of TCA (trichloranisole), high levels of VA (volatile acidity), Brettanomyces, or other compounds can be precisely measured in the lab. Objective

Intensity of aroma: intensity of aroma is directly related to fruit ripeness, certain impact compounds, and structural levels, especially alcohol. Given that, one could place a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige next to a Gewurztraminer from Alsace and the difference in aromatic intensity would be obvious. However, tasting experience would be needed to calibrate the degrees of aromatic intensity between the two extremes. Objective – subjective

Age: oxidative character in wine is due to time spent in barrel or bottle. Again, two extremes are useful in determining age in the context of this discussion: a young vibrant and fresh white wine vs. the same wine, which has been in bottle for a decade or longer, showing dried fruit character as well as secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors. Hence, old vs. young vs. degrees of development. Objective – subjective

Fruit: at heart, describing fruit in wine is really the source of the entire objective-subjective debate. Our response to fruit qualities in wine is always dependent on our unique life memories of said aromas and flavors. Hence, my “kiwi” call on a particular white wine could be your Bartlett pear, which might be someone else’s Fuji apple. In this case, we are all equally correct in our calls. Subjective and thus it will always be…

Fruit quality: back to the objective universe. Tart fruit due to lack of ripeness results less alcohol and higher natural acidity. Ripe, even raisinated fruit qualities are due to … ripe and raisinated fruit, which means higher alcohol and less natural acidity in the wine. Fruit quality can easily be linked to structural elements that can easily be quantified in a lab. I’m calling objective here.

Non-fruit: here a mix of objective-subjective with a strong nod to objective. With subjective, one’s life memories come into play in calling various flowers, herbs, and spices in a wine. Beyond that, the non-fruit category lands squarely in the objective camp in the form of important impact compounds in wine, many of which are chemical in nature. Objective — subjective

Earth-mineral: while debate and conjecture over earth-mineral has long raged in the industry and beyond, recent use of DNA sequencing technology shows the role bacteria and yeasts in vineyard soil play in fermentation as well as the chemical compounds in the finished wine. However, it’s worth noting that smelling and tasting mineral and earth in wine is something that usually requires experience on the part of the taster. Objective – subjective

Wood: beyond the obvious aromas and flavors from oak aging, putting wine in a barrel adds chemical compounds from the actual wood as well as properties from tasting/caramelizing the inside of the cask. Objective

Hilma af Klint, Group X, No. 3, 1915


Dryness/sweetness: due to the presence (of lack of) residual sugar. Easy call: objective

Body: due to the levels of alcohol, glycerin, and dry extract. All easily measureable and therefore objective

Fruit: confirming what was smelled in the wine. Again, fruit falls squarely into the subjective camp.

Fruit quality: confirming that fruit quality is the result of structural levels as they relate to harvest timing and regional climate. Objective

Non-fruit: as with the nose, bits of subjectivity overshadowed by impact compounds and other elements which can be cultured out in a lab. Objective-subjective

Earth-mineral: ditto the nose. Objective – subjective

Wood: as above, objective

Acidity: while every individual has unique tolerances to each, all the structural elements (levels of acidity, alcohol, and tannin) can easily be quantified in a lab–including acidity. Objective

Alcohol: ditto above. Objective

Tannin: same. Objective

Balance: regardless of definition, defining balance in a wine tends to be a moving target and finding universal agreement far from easy. Subjective

Finish: the length of the finish of any wine is not always agreed on—even by seasoned pros. Subjective

Complexity: many definitions to complexity. We’ll go with the one that says complexity in wine is determined by the number of aromas and flavors combined with how much the wine changes on your palate. If it’s a matter of counting, then an objective vote makes sense. However, how a wine evolves on the palate does not make for universal agreement. Objective-subjective


I used 28 of the 43 total criteria on the deductive grid. My scorecard breaks down as follows:

  • Objective: 15 criteria or 53%
  • Objective-subjective: 8 criteria or 28%
  • Subjective: 5 criteria or 19%


What can we take away from this less-than-official survey? That tasting is a blend of purely objective and purely subjective experience with a fair amount of the two combined. Perhaps the most important take away is that one cannot generalize tasting as “all subjective” because it’s not true. Further, the more experienced one is as a taster, the more objective the wine experience becomes. The less experienced, the more subjective. To point, Michael Meagher, MS, recently told me, “Once I viewed deductive tasting as not something that I subjectively did, but rather as something that was purely objective and driven by unadulterated data, it became a lot easier to connect the dots.” I couldn’t agree more.

Ultimately it’s our job as professionals and educators to make absolutely clear to consumers and students alike that tasting is a combination of objective and subjective experience. In doing so we also need to show them how to connect to their innate ability and memories. If we do our job, everyone will avoid massive confusion–especially those just getting into wine. And that’s a very good thing.

If you’d like to learn more about the subtleties of wine tasting, please join me at one of our weekly in-house wine tastings! Saturdays from 1-5 pm at Golden Gate Wine Cellars in San Francisco.


LAST CALL French Laundry’s Top Rated Chardonnay

What do the French Laundry & Golden Gate Wine Cellars have in common… Hudson Chardonnay The Hudson Chardonnay is poured by the glass and paired with a butter-poached Lobster Tail – mouthwatering, delectable, scrumptious – MUST HAVE!

Winemakers John Kongsgaard and Christopher Vandendriesche did it again! Only a few hundred cases of the stunning, very Burgundian-like Hudson Chardonnay were produced! If this vineyard would be in Burgundy, it would have the Premier-Cru designation! Lee Hudson is probably one of the best winegrowers in the valley.  Many great wineries (Kongsgaard, Kistler, etc.) have been sourcing from this vineyard for decades!

Hudson 2016 Chardonnay “Estate” Carneros Napa Valley
GGWC 69.99
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96+ Points Robert Parker:  “Produced from the “Shot Wente” heritage selection clone and all naturally fermented in French oak, 85% new, where it was aged for 12 months, the Chardonnay Hudson Vineyardreveals intense grapefruit, pineapple and honeysuckle notes with hints of brioche, ginger and shaved almonds. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is bursting with spicy, tropical fruit flavors, framed by plenty of freshness and a satiny texture, finishing with great length and depth…This famous vineyard in Carneros was first started by the Hudson family in 1981. These are some of the strongest wines I have yet tasted from them, thanks to winemaker Christopher Vandendriessche and Ace consultant John Kongsgaard.”

Winemaker Notes: “We experienced ideal growing conditions for our Chardonnay block. Cool summer temperatures extended the growing season culminating in exceptional phenolic ripeness. A total of 5 blocks were independently harvested from late August into early September. Upon arriving to the winery, the lots are individually whole cluster pressed and barreled down for fermentation. Our standard Chardonnay protocol employs a slow primary fermentation process that uses only native yeasts and lasts 12 to 14 months. This extended fermentation process produces cerebral Chardonnay that stands up to our naturally concentrated shot-Wente selections. The barrels are topped and stirred once a week during élevage and racked for the first time after 16 months.”

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Drink wine with Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, and Jackson Pollock…

The wrath of Juno sent Aeneas wandering the Mediterranean in Vergil’s Aeneid. For the ancient Romans, ira or wrath, was a tool of a god, an unstoppable anger driven by forces greater than man. One can argue that we see such fury in both the might of nature and the passion of art. Wrath appears in the edgy power of Robert Plant’s voice and the raw wail of Eric Clapton’s guitar. It is frozen into Jackson Pollock’s violent splatters of paint. Wrath is in the wall of maritime fog that rolls into the Salinas Valley and the relentless afternoon winds that scream through our grape trellises.

Wrath 2016 Pinot Noir, Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands
GGWC 49.99

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Winery Notes: “A lively palate, capped by wild berries and minerals, displays bright acidity, floral notes and a lengthy finish.”

94 Points Vinous: “Vivid ruby. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, vanilla and candied flowers, along with smoky mineral and allspice overtones. Shows very good depth and clarity on the palate, offering sappy black raspberry, cherry cola and spicecake flavors firmed by a spine of juicy acidity. Closes with repeating spiciness, interwoven tannins and impressive, red-fruit-dominated persistence.”

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A Kosta Browne Pinot at ½ the price!

Cuvée Marcy is the latest release from Sandler.  Cuvée Marcy was previously known as KEEFER RANCH.  Kosta Browne purchased the vineyard and have the exclusive name rights to this source.  Sandler is still purchasing the fruit and uses Keefer’s original owner (Marcy) as its moniker instead.  Keefer Ranch Vineyard was planted in 1988 by Marcy Keefer and her husband Robert, a retired doctor who took night classes on grape farming before diving into the deep end and establishing the site.  Many great wineries have purchased fruit from them, until they sold to K.B – now only a handful of them will still have access to this coveted source.   Marcy Keefer passed away in the fall of 2017, so this wine is dedicated to her memory.

Sandler 2016 Pinot Noir “Cuvée Marcy” Russian River Valley
GGWC 44.99

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The wine known formerly as “Keefer Ranch” has a deep, dark ruby color with a purple rim. The nose is among the prettiest of all the (former) Keefers (now Cuvee Marcy) Sandler has produced. The wine offers up aromas of rose petals, ripe berry fruit and a whiff toasty vanilla. The palate is youthful and drinks more like a young Pommard than a Russian River Valley Pinot, with well-balanced acidity, moderate tannin, and a slightly earthy component. An elegant finish unfolds with time, revealing a wine that should last well into the 2020’s.

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Bubblies for the upcoming holidays!

Just in time for the holidays we added some new Champagnes and one Sparkling wine to our portfolio.

Here are some of Frank’s newest suggestions:


Also check out these other favorites:


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My neighbor’s Wine…

Founded in 1999, Copain, meaning ‘friend’ or ‘buddy’ in French, embodies the philosophy that wine enhances life’s most joyous occasions, and is an experience best shared with friends and family. Sourced from cool climate vineyards in Mendocino County, the Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast, the Copain portfolio consists of three distinct collections—Tous Ensemble, Les Voisins, and the vineyard designate wines. These wines have been long inspired by France’s Rhone Valley wine region resulting in Copain’s signature style of restrained, and elegant wines.

Copain 2016 Chardonnay Les Voisins Anderson Valley
GGWC 34.99
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The Les Voisins packs a serious punch. The intensity of the vintage comes through in the wine’s texture and density, but the aromatics are fresh and nicely lifted throughout. Pear, green apple and lightly spiced notes are some of the signatures in this delicate, finessed Chardonnay.

Winery Notes: “Meyer Lemon, Golden Delicious Apple, pine needles, Asian pear, lemon blossom, lemon verbena, fresh pear. Crisp acidity, with no oak influence, carries through to the finish.”

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100 Pointer Luc Morlet does it again!

The 2014 growing season was easygoing.  Grapevines found their happy place quickly, as warm spring soils brought an early budbreak, and the rest of the season was mild and relaxed, with high temperatures dancing in the mid 80’s.  The vines and grapes developed smoothly, soaking up the dreamy vacation-like weather.  Wine country got a little shaken in late August by an impressive earthquake, but the vineyards only felt a tickle on their roots and harvest proceeded with the same mellow vibe as the rest of the vintage.


Linked 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Knight’s Valley
GGWC 124.99
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Robert Parker wrote: “Luc Morlet is not only a fabulous winemaking talent, he knows how to bring the French savoir faire of complexity, elegance and precision to the ripe, concentrated, intense fruit of California.” No sense arguing with Bob, he captured this vintage to a tee. A swirl of the glass reveals aromatics of red and black cherries mingled with cedar. The palate is teased by impeccable tannins, round and soft, with notes of blackberry, leather and cocoa, and the finish boasts a captivating yet laid back character.”

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