Aug
2
2021

NEW Beckstoffer G3 Melis Family RESERVE Cabernet – TODAY ONLY 20% OFF & FREE SHIPPING –

I am very proud to release our third Melis Family G3 Family Reserve Cabernet bottling. The grapes were sourced from the famed Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford, Napa Valley. The 2018 vintage might be the one we have produced to date. Our Melis Family 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III offers intense aromatic notes of chocolate, black currant and a touch of licorice. The wine is full in body with remarkable richness, great length and a complex long but silky grained finish. This is a wine that will cellar well for 10+ years. Those who like to enjoy it now, I highly recommend decanting a few hours in advance.  

Melis Family 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve, Beckstoffer G3 Vineyard Napa Valley
Regular $134.99 TODAY ONLY $109.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more!
Use code MELIS during checkout

Historical records show that a portion of this vineyard was planted in 1895 by Mrs. Thomas Rutherford. This 300-acre parcel first purchased by Beaulieu founder Georges de Latour in 1928 and called Beaulieu Vineyard Number 3, was the home to BV’s Rutherford Cabernets made by the renowned winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff. These wines achieved wide acclaim in the 1960s and ’70s, establishing BV’s pre-eminence in the making of fine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Purchased by Beckstoffer Vineyards in 1988, the vineyard has since been replanted using new Cabernet Sauvignon clones with tighter spacing and advanced trellising systems, enhancing both quality and grape tonnage. In 2009 181 acres were placed under a land conservation easement that forever prohibits non-agricultural development.  Vineyard Georges III is today home to the main offices of Beckstoffer Vineyards. 
 
Also, check out: MELIS FAMILY 2020 ROSE OF PINOT NOIR, SANTA RITA HILLS (assorts for free shipping) 

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!
Aug
1
2021

How to live longer: Two surprising foods that help fight decline in later life

How to live longer:
Two surprising foods that help fight
decline in later life

By Adam Chapman

PEOPLE are living longer than ever before and with rising expectancy comes a rise in age-related decline. However, data collected from 1,787 ageing adults found two surprising foods that can offer protection against age-related cognitive problems.

Dementia – a syndrome involving deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities – is set to rise exponentially over the coming decades. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050. This trend in part reflects improvements in living standards, which means people are living longer than ever before.

While there is no cure for dementia, research suggests you can bolster the brain’s defences against cognitive decline by making sensible dietary decisions. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found two surprising dietary items that may confer this protective effect. The was a first-of-its-kind large scale analysis that connects specific foods to later-in-life cognitive acuity. The most intriguing finding was the protective role that cheese and wine may play.
 

Cheese and wine shown to counter cognitive decline
(Image: Getty Images)

Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, Brandon Klinedinst, a Neuroscience PhD candidate working in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Iowa State, and their team analysed data collected from 1,787 ageing adults (from 46 to 77 years of age, at the completion of the study) in the United Kingdom through the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource containing in-depth genetic and health information from half-a-million UK participants.

The database is globally accessible to approved researchers undertaking vital research into the world’s most common and life-threatening diseases.

Participants completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) as part of a touchscreen questionnaire at the beginning of the study and then in two follow-up assessments (conducted from 2012 through 2013 and again between 2015 and 2016).

The FIT analysis provides an in-time snapshot of an individual’s ability to “think on the fly.”

Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments.

The Food Frequency Questionnaire asked participants about their intake of the following:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Raw vegetables and salad
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Oily fish
  • Lean fish
  • Processed meat
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Tea and coffee
  • Beer and cider
  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Champaign
  • Liquor.

Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life.

What’s more, the daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function.
 

Key findings: Lamb also appeared to help stave off cognitive decline
(Image: Getty Images)

“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down,” Willette said.

“While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

What else did the researchers find out?

Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive function.

Excessive consumption of salt is invariably bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time, the study suggested.

Commenting on the findings, Klinedinst added: “Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimers, while others seem to be at greater risk. “That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether.” He continued: “Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat. “Knowing what that entails contributes to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and putting this disease in a reverse trajectory.”

Jul
31
2021

Sorry only a few cases of The Best Napa Petite Sirah remaining, better hurry!


 

It started in 1914 when Eliza & Mads Peterson purchased a 100-acre property in the Napa Valley. It hosted a small Zinfandel vineyard, but with the onset of Prohibition in 1920, prunes became the cash crop. It remained an orchard, large vegetable garden and also hosted numerous farm animals.  Not until the 1990s was the orchard replaced by vines again. The current Peterson generation has been growing Petite Sirah, Cabernet and Merlot on the property. Under the guidance of ace-winemaker Robert Foley, the Petersons have been producing amazing wine from the property called “Switchback Ridge” named for the winding trails in the hills above the vineyard. Today Kelly Peterson continues the legacy that began with her great-grandfather, Mads 105 years ago.  Her daughter Ashley is being groomed to take over the reins one of these days as well.

Switchback Ridge 2018 Estate Petite Sirah, Napa Valley
GGWC 64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SWITCHBACK during checkout

Mix & match OK with other Switchback Ridge Wines

This might be the BEST Petite Sirah to come from the Napa Valley in decades.  The wine offers up a very dark blue/purple color, almost crude oil-like.  On the nose you’ll encounter gorgeous aromas of black stone fruit, dark chocolate, espresso bean and a hint of minerality.  On the palate this lush, full-bodied gem offers bright, bold yet extremely well-balanced fruit.  Very opulent, yet extremely well-refined, this youngster can be enjoyed now, but will be able to cellar for a good 10-15 years.  LIMITED PRODUCTION!
 
Winemaker Notes: “An immensely dark and delicious wine that instantly floods the senses with aromas of classic berry pie, candied fruit, and a kiss of briar. The palate is thick and rich, boasting decadent black fruit flavors that coat the entire tongue like peanut butter! The tannins are bold and gripping, yet surprisingly soft and silky for a wine of its stature”

Also check out these other Switchback Gems:
SWITCHBACK RIDGE 2018 CABERNET “ESTATE” NAPA VALLEY
SWITCHBACK RIDGE 2018 MERLOT “ESTATE” NAPA VALLEY
 

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Jul
30
2021

To the Moon & Back, a fun summer wine! And you FLY FREE! That is cheaper than what Bezos or Branson would charge you…


There was a man named Ernest. He was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a role model for his grandson, Todd Gottula, who founded the Ernest Winery with his wife, Erin Brooks, back in 2012.  Todd’s grandmother, Joanne, is The Artist in the family. Her path as an artist revealed itself later in life, but her talent shines through. Today her beautiful works grace their lives daily—she is the source of the portrait of Ernest that appears on all of the Ernest bottles. Todd’s maternal grandfather, Ray, joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. Inside the family, they called him “The Engineer”. After returning to the U.S., Ray joined the team that built the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon. He always had the big picture in mind.

2018 Ernest Winery Aligoté “The Aviator” Henry David Bennett Valley
GGWC 39.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code ERNEST during checkout

The 2018 The Aviator Aligoté has delicate scents of white peach and matcha powder with earthy notions of hay and beeswax. The light-bodied palate is crisp and textural, with restrained fruits and a juicy finish. 135 cases produced.

Winery Notes: “Bright and clear, hinting at white gold in color, with an exuberant nose of orchard blossoms, Meyer lemon, and abundant minerality. Refreshingly light on the palate with citrus, textural apple, a hint of fresh herbs & bright acidity.”

Vinous 93 Points: “The Ernest Aligoté Henry David Vineyard, from a site in Bennett Valley, is fabulous. This relatively warm, sunny, hillside site yields an Aligoté built on texture. Even so, there is plenty of the energy that makes this Burgundian variety so compelling. Lemon oil, almond, white flowers and mint shape the super-expressive finish. The wine was aged in neutral French oak, with full malolactic fermentation. This is such a delicious wine and another terrific example of how stellar the year is for whites.”  

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Jul
29
2021

This Golden Oldie still has it!

When sampling grapes in the vineyard, hand pruning her cherished roses, preparing dinner for her family, practicing Bikram yoga – in whatever she does, Merry balances intellect with intuition. Each wine she makes benefits from her precision and perception of subtlety and elegance.

Merry Edwards approaches life with graceful intensity. Now in the fifth decade of her winemaking career, Merry has earned the universal respect of winemaking peers, grape growers and academicians. A self-described perfectionist, she has constantly refined her vineyard practices, wines and techniques. Merry does not rest on her laurels ― she grows. “People frequently ask what is the best wine she has ever made. She replies, “It’s not made yet!”


 
Merry Edwards 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley
GGWC 47.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code MERRY during checkout

The light-hued 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley offers a pretty, perfumed, incredibly juicy and fruit-forward style as well as lots of peach, citrus, and honeyed flower aromas and flavors. It’s clean and has good acidity, medium body, and a great finish. It’s certainly an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and is geared for drinking over the coming year or so.

Vinous 94 Points: “The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc is a jewel of a wine. Bright, aromatic and chiseled, the 2019 bristles with energy. This translucent Sauvignon Blanc has so much to offer. Lemon confit, white flowers, crushed rocks and mint extend the intense, mineral finish beautifully.”

Wine Spectator 94 Points: “This white offers a complex mix of lime sherbet, makrut lime leaf, lemon curd and orange blossom flavors that are fragrant and complex on a fleshy, succulent frame, with notes of nectarine and ripe Crenshaw melon. Harmonious, with a fresh thread of acidity on the finish.”

Parker 93 Points: “The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc opens from youthful yeasty tones to fresh citrus and green tropical fruits. The medium-bodied palate is notable for the intensity of its spicy fruits and bright freshness, and it finishes with an anchoring touch of texture.”

Winery Notes: “Abundant aromas of tropical fruit leap from the glass, white pineapple, ripe passion fruit, mango and guava, and a hint of banana cream pie. The palate is round and open, with accents of ruby red grapefruit, honeysuckle and melon married with a burst of crisp, refreshing acidity.”

Merry Edwards 2018 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
GGWC  61.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code MERRY during checkout

Winery Notes: “The wine possesses a deep ruby opaque color with a garnet red rim. On the nose, it offers aromas of bright Bing cherry with hints of licorice, subtle forest floor and open inviting notes of rose petal, vanilla and baking spices. Rich and lively upon entry, the mouth begins with fruit forward notes of crunchy raspberries and red cherries. Silky tannins are supported by well-balanced acidity and mocha notes throughout a long finish.”

Wine Spectator 94 Points: “Jammy plum, strawberry and dark cherry ooze from the core of this beautifully coastal wine, seasoned in dried herb, clove and black tea. Expressive and varietal, with a thick tannin structure, it has room to open further and unwind, its oak well integrated and its tannins structured.” 


Vinous 93 Points: “The 2018 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is another hugely appealing entry-level wine in this range. Freshly cut flowers, mint, white pepper and red cherry fruit give the Sonoma Coast Pinot a brilliant upper register to play off its midweight personality. Next to the Russian River Pinot, the Sonoma Coast is more linear and a bit less exuberant, but every bit as appealing.”

Merry Edwards 2018 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley
GGWC 51.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code MERRY during checkout

Winery Notes: “This wine’s concentrated, yellow-gold color shimmers in the glass as fragrant aromas entice. Honeysuckle, candied ginger, toasted almonds and lemon meringue tease the senses on the nose. Dense and lush on the palate, the mouth explodes with honeyed pears and pineapple, orange blossom, apricot and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Surprisingly fresh and clean for a late harvest wine, the luscious flavors linger on the finish without being cloying.”

Vinous 93 Points: “The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest is laced with the essence of tangerine peel, crystallized ginger, dried flowers, spice and mint. Beautifully perfumed and light on its feet, the Late Harvest is classy, refreshing and impossible to resist.” 

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Jul
28
2021

AN UNDER $30 WHITE GEM THAT WILL PLEASE PALATE & WALLET!

Winery Notes: “Returning from a stroll in the early ocean air you smell the honeysuckle and lilac which delicately climb the front wall of the cottage. White strawberries emerge from their calyxes along the pathway made of river rock which leads you to the door. You are met with aromas of vanilla bean, melon, lime zest & guava as you approach and take pause, beholden to this wonderful space on the coast.”

Sans Liege 2020 Côtes du Coast, White Blend Paso Robles
$31.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code SANSLIEGE during checkout

The Côtes du Coast offers more exotic pineapple, tangerine, marmalade, and honeyed notes, with a pure, medium to full-bodied, elegant, incredibly pure style on the palate. This is a sensational white that is underpriced in today’s market.  The wine is aged in 26% New French oak, 54% neutral French oak, and 20% stainless steel.
 
Vineyard Sources: The Cotes du Coast is a blend of 45% Viognier, 33% Marsanne, 13% Roussanne, 6% Grenache Blanc, 3% Clairette and were sourced from the Bien Nacido, White Hawk, Alta Colina, Last Frontier, Watch Hill and Kopack vineyards
 
Also check out these other great Sans Liege wines:
SANS LIEGE 2018 “THE OFFERING” SANTA BARBARA
SANS LIEGE PROPHETESS XVII SANTA BARBARA
GROUNDWORK 2019 GRENACHE BLANC
GROUNDWORK 2017 SYRAH

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Jul
27
2021

LAST DAY FOR DUMOL SPECIAL PRICING!!

Time flies, as this is the 24nd  release of DUMOL!  I remember meeting Kerry Murphy (who sadly passed away last year in July) way back when he started DuMOL and tasting through the first bottles of what has now turned into a real success story. Andy Smith, his longtime winemaker, rolled up his sleeves and produced what can turn into the best vintage for Dumol ever!.

With still lower than normal production levels this vintage will sell out in no time! The 2019 DuMol releases are turning out to be quite spectacular! I would say that several of these may be the best ever from this winery. Look for some rave reviews from the wine critics! As you know DuMOL is always in high demand, you can bet that this means the allocation will sell out quickly.

Dumol 2019 Chardonnay  “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley
98 Points!!
Retail 65.00 –  NOW 59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

The Dumol 2019 Chardonnay Wester Reach comes from various great vineyards in 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: “Aromas are rich with oily intensity: white peach, tangerine, crystallized ginger, and hazelnut underpinned by an edge of steely mineral freshness. Stone fruits and deep citrus oil dominate the palate, broad and layered, full of intricate nuances. Tangy lemon curd and grapefruit notes combine with fresh acidity to bring energy and focus to the long, vibrant finish. Drink between Summer 2021 and 2025.”

Vineyard Sources: 30% Dumol Estate, 22% Morelli, 16% Flax estate 16% Charles Heintz, 16% Ritchie

Dumol 2019 Pinot Noir “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley
96 Points!!
Retail 80.00 –  NOW 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

Incredibly aromatic and complex, the 2019 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: ”This beautiful, lilting, dynamic wine is the essence of coastal Russian River Pinot Noir. The wine’s aromas and flavors encompass the entire spectrum of red and black fruits, savory spices, and earthy undertones: black cherry, wild berries, dried thyme, orange zest, sandalwood, and black tea. The palate is supple, broad, and lively, flowing seamlessly to a crunchy vibrant finish with rising red-mineral lift and silky structure. Drink from Summer 2021 to 2030.”

Vineyard Sources: 26% Dumol Estate, 22% Flax Estate, 20% Widdoes, 16% Upp Road & 16% Hanna

Dumol 2019 Syrah “Mountainside” Russian River Valley
96 Points!!
Retail 65.00 –  NOW 59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

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.

Winemaker Notes: “Complex aromatics soar from the glass: blueberry and cherry, violet and graphite, cocoa and lavender. Flavors of boysenberry and cassis dominate as the wine flows to a broad, supple center, with notes of anise, sweet tobacco, and cracked black peppercorn throughout. Tannins are chewy, broad and fine, framing the lovely interplay between brightness and power, the wine finishing with lingering notes of licorice and floral lift. Drink between late 2021 and 2030. As this is an incredibly versatile wine, I recommend pairing it with rich stews or grilled meats. In its youth, the wine is best when decanted for an hour, and it is delicious the next day from a partial re-corked bottle. “

Vineyard Sources:  53% GVR Estate & 47% Hoppe-Kelly

Also check out these other great DuMOL wines:
DuMOL 2018 Chardonnay “Chloe” Ritchie Vineyard, 96 Points
DuMOL 2018 Chardonnay “Isobel” Charles Heintz Vineyard, 96 Points
DuMOL 2018 Chardonnay “Estate” Russian River Valley, 96 Points
DuMOL 2018 Syrah “Eddie’s Patch” Russian River Valley, 96 Points

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Jul
26
2021

96 Points and French Laundry’s Favorite & Featured UNDER $50 Grand-Cru.

“Site” is the venture from  Jeremy Weintraub (the longtime Seavey winemaker).  He sources from the best “Sites” in California. This latest Viognier is just a good example. The 2018 Site Viognier is sourced from the Larner Vineyard.  The Larner Vineyard would be considered a “Grand Cru” if it was located in France, some other great wineries purchase from this vineyard as well (Paul Lato, etc.)

The wine is on the list at French Laundry, Benu, Michael Mina and some other high-end Bay Area Restaurants.  So I am lucky to have a wine of this caliber in my portfolio as well.

Accolades:
~ Top Grand Cru Vineyards in California by Wine Spectator ~
~ Top Five California Vineyards by Wall Street Journal ~
~ Top 25 Vineyards in the World by Wine & Spirits ~
~California’s Best Single Vineyards by Wine Enthusiast ~
~Top 5 Vineyards You Can Trust by Pinot Report ~
~Ten Best Vineyards by Food & Wine ~

Site 2018 Viognier “Larner Vineyard” Santa Barbara
GGWC 48.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code SITE during checkout

Winery Notes: This wine offers lovely notes of white flowers, chamomile, and honeysuckle. The mouth is fresh and lively and carries a long finish. It fermented and aged in two neutral barrels and I stirred the lees throughout the aging process.

FMW 96 Points: Raised for eight months in neutral French oak barrique. This stunning white offers a bright green-tinged straw hue. Gorgeous aromas of ripe citrus and nectarine are complemented by hints of white pepper, and dusty minerals. The will is juicy and deeply concentrated, offering intense white peach, pear nectar and tangerine flavors that show outstanding clarity and minerally back-end cut. The floral note repeats strongly on the incisive finish, which lingers with excellent focus and spicy tenacity.

Also check out: Site 2017 Syrah “Bien Nacido” Santa Barbara 96 Points

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Jul
25
2021

Wine Gets Some Skin in the Game

Wine Gets Some Skin in the Game

 Contributed by Vicki Denig
in WineSearcher
 
Maceration is an everyday practice for reds, but more white wine producers are now using it.

 

Common in red winemaking, the idea of extended skin contact
is now on trend for whites, too.

Over the last decade, skin-contact wines have seen a renaissance like never before.

Not quite red, not quite white, and most definitely not made from oranges, these skin-macerated whites can offer the best of both worlds in the realms of texture, flavor, and quality – though not all skin-contact wines are one in the same. Grape varieties, regions, and vinification styles of these grippy wines fall all over the flavor profile spectrum.

From a winemaker’s perspective, the reason for diving into this style of winemaking is equally varied. For some, regional history, consumer interest, and simple curiosity have been the starting points. For others, saving stagnant fermentations and moving things along in the cellar were the driving force. Though regardless of the why, the how-to, learning processes, and consumer responses are equally varied. Six industry professionals around the globe have weighed in on their experiences with this unique style of vinification, here.

Honoring history – more than skin deep

In Sighnaghi, Georgia, American winemaker John Wurdeman made his first skin-contact white wine at Pheasant’s Tears back in 2008 to honor regional history.

“From the beginning, we wanted to offer unapologetically Georgian wines that were respectful of the heritage here, as well as distinct and different from international wine styles,” he says. Wurdeman notes that historically, most Georgian white wines were made with some level of skin contact. Today, the practice has since become synonymous with the country’s vinification regimen.

“From my experience Georgia is one of the only countries where orange/amber wines are the most common and celebrated style, but it’s not the only place,” he says, citing Spain and Italy as other countries that widely use this practice. “Though in Georgia, the process is unique, as it remains the dominating and most desirable style for Georgian supras [feasts] wines. Later, we realized many of our most coveted clients gravitated to putting orange wines on their lists, as it was distinctly Georgian!”

Wurdeman’s original skin-contact Rktasiteli spent three months on the lees with partial stem contact. Since then, the winery has experimented with varying maceration levels and indigenous grape varieties. Curiosity reigns For some, curiosity was the impetus. In Austria, Christina Netzl made her first skin-contact white wine back in 2015. “I was really fascinated by the different styles,” she says, adding that her extensive experience with red-wine production helped push her to experiment even further. Netzl chose to work with macerated Chardonnay, as she found that non-macerated styles from the region could at times be “a bit too sweetish or boring”. Netzl notes that she does not follow one strict regimen with her skin-contact whites, as every vintage is different and therefore brings different needs to the table. For Netzl, the normal maceration time generally falls between three and six weeks.

In South Australia, James Erskine of Jauma winery felt inspired to give skin-contact winemaking a go after tasting Stanislao Radikon’s iconic wines back in 2010.

“At the time, consumer interest was near non-existent in Australia,” he says, citing his curiosity as enough of a reason to give the practice a whirl. Today, Erskine uses destemmed Chenin Blanc, Muscat, and Arneis to craft his skin-macerated whites in a barrel-fermented, non-oxidative style (he places the head back on the fill with juice before fermentation). “If you want a juicy wine, the skin contact is shorter, about 10 days,” explains Erskine, explaining that longer macerations will add texture and heighten aromatics.

For others, the impetus for skin-contact vinification was found in the need to kickstart struggling wines. Tracey Brandt of Donkey & Goat Winery produced her first skin-contact white from Roussanne back in 2007, after sluggish native fermentations were slowing down operations at the winery. Like Erskine, Brandt notes that there was really no consumer interest for this style of wine back in 2010, though things have certainly changed over the past decade. Today, Brandt makes  a full range of 100-percent destemmed skin-contact “white” wines that see 4-16 days of contact each. (Stems are not included, as Brandt notes that stems increase pH and reduce natural acidity.)

Skins: pros and cons

According to Netzl, one of the drawbacks of creating skin-macerated wines is that it requires more winery space and time, though the results are worth it. “Due to the tannin structure, the wines are more stable concerning oxidation,” she explains, which helps with the preservation of the wine.
 

Consumer interest in skin-contact whites has grown in the past decade.
© Donkey & Goat Winery

 
Wurdeman notes that the skin-contact whites offer the best of both worlds: the freshness of white wine and the backbone/structure of a red wine. He notes that this unique marriage of character traits renders these wines extremely versatile on the table, making them perfect matches for Georgian, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Lebanese, and other cuisines. “I can’t think of any real drawbacks except if it is quite tannic it can take a few years to have the tannins integrate well in the rest of the wine.”

Brandt notes that skin contact can encourage a stronger fermentation, which, as Wurdeman mentioned, adds texture and savory notes to a wine. “However, terroir purists may feel that skin contact masks the expression of terroir, and depending on varietal and length of contact, the two styles can be as different as night and day,” she explains. For Erskine, vinification is simply vinification. “[With skin-contact winemaking], there are really no extra challenges or benefits or risks, it’s really just like making a red wine. Do everything by taste, numbers are irrelevant,” he says.

Getting under the skin

Milan Nestarec made her first skin-contact wine in 2009, after returning from Slovenia and Italy. After four years of making it for personal consumption, Nestarec commercially launched the wine in 2013. She found that after years of experimentation, local Czech varieties, such as Neuburger, worked best. Though for Nestarec, phenolic ripeness is more important than maceration time. “In 2009, we started with six months of maceration. Now the length of our maceration is 4-5 days maximum, and we shorten it every year,” she says, acknowledging these changes as a direct reflection of her family’s ever-changing palates. “Less is more in this regard. We want to make wine that is more elegant, drinkable, and with good energy. That is important to us.”

Though in her opinion, skin-contact winemaking isn’t a forever affair. “As my vineyards age and so do I, I think I will use skin contact less and less,” she reveals, citing a quest for more elegance and harmony in her wines, which can often be lost in overly macerated wines.
Additionally, she reveals that nature dictates the end game. “In 2020, we made a minimum amount of macerated white wines, as the vintage was simply not suitable,” she says. “You can project a lot of things in your head, but nature has the last word. If you understand and respect it, you win.”

Consumer feedback

Netzl reveals that at first, her skin-contact wines were not at all well-received by her family. “I run the winery with my parents, and at the beginning, they didn’t like the wine at all – they thought it was a shame to vinify good grapes as such!” However, a few short years later, Netzl notes that they became fascinated by the wines and the science behind it. “It took a few years for people to embrace our skin contact and pet-nat wines, though it wasn’t really negative feedback, just confusion,” explains Erskine, liking the experience of tasting a unique flavor, such as fish sauce, for the first time. Brandt has found that in general, the feedback has been positive, though of course she can’t please everybody. “I’d say we have far fewer negative responses to skin-contact wines, but of course they are not for everyone,” she says.

In 2019, New York-based sommelier Doreen Winkler founded Orange Glou, the industry’s first skin-contact exclusive wine club. “Orange wine has deeper flavors, texture and is just more fun and delicious [than other wines] if you get the good stuff,” she explains. Winkler notes that the style may not be for everyone, but reveals that she has turned many people onto orange wines who are all now hooked. In curating the club’s selection, Winkler selects skin-contact wines from all over the world made from a diverse array of varieties and maceration times.

Wurdeman recalls that in the beginning, conservative markets were “quite startled” by his skin-contact wines’ uniqueness. “Sarah Abbott, a great Master of Wine from London once said: ‘Orange wines of Georgia are not the mean sisters of whites, but the introspective cousins of reds’, and I think she is right on,” he says, declaring that preconceptions about wines can often interfere with genuine aesthetic experiences.

“If we don’t see amber wines as a rustic version of whites, but rather as light, refreshing kin of reds, it changes our perspective,” he says. “Now it’s definitely a hip and very celebrated style – somehow the ancient has become cutting edge again.”
 

Jul
24
2021

IT’S UNWRITTEN, ITS CABERNET, IT’S VERY LIMITED

Sourced from one of the most historic vineyard sites in Napa Valley, the Lewelling Ranch in Saint Helena, the Unwritten Cabernet Sauvignon has complex and inviting aromatics. The wine is an opaque purple in the glass, visually demonstrating the wine’s youthfulness. The nose erupts with floral aromas of clove, sandalwood, and baking spice. This wine is not shy; it covers your palate with red and black fruits and is replete with succulent flavors of black cherry, creme de cassis and plum compote. Gorgeous, taut tannins give the wine definition and weight, elongating its already lengthy finish. The 2017 will evolve slowly into a more subtle and nuanced experience; but is lusciously bold at the time of its release.

Unwritten 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena Napa Valley 94+ Points
GGWC 149.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code UNWRITTEN during checkout

Robert Parker 94+ Points: “The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon springs from the glass with alluring scents of blueberry compote, blackberry preserves and warm cassis plus hints of rose oil, cedar chest and Chinese five spice. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is completely packed with juicy black fruits and loads of spicy accents, framed by plush tannins and oodles of freshness, finishing on a soft-spoken earthy note. Nice newbie!”

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