Superb Mountain Grown Cabernet

Scribe Winery

The history of Scribe starts in 1858, just ten years after California joined the Union, when Emil Dressel, son of a famous Champagne producer came to California in search of his fortune.  Fast forward through phyloxera, WW I & II, the150 year old property was in disrepair.  The “Scribe” folks are returning it to a thriving ecosystem.  The 100+ year old Mission Hacienda, once home to the Dressels, is being restored as a tasting room and event center.  The Mariani brothers have access to some of the most amazing fruit sources as well, and are crafting first rates wines from their various vineyards.

Scribe Cabernet SauvignonScribe 2009 Cabernet “Outpost East” Atlas Peak, Napa Valley
Retail $70.00  – GGWC 64.99  – FREE SHIPPING on six or more
Use discount shipping code “SCRIBE09” during check out

The 2009 Cabernet is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The wine is aged for 18 months in high-end French oak barrels and a good 2 year in bottle before being released! You’ll have to decant this puppy and let it breathe for a good hour or two (or cellar it for a few years). I was very impressed with this youngster – both the wine and winemaker are youngsters! On the nose this wine showcases intense aromas of sweet cherries, a touch of vanilla and a whiff on minerality. On the palate this full-bodied wine serves up generous amounts of mouth-filling flavors – black currant, cocoa, black plums with a touch of toasty vanilla and anise on the finish. The wine finishes gracefully and long, with a good 45 second finish.

Click here or on the links above to order!

Loring Chardonnay surprises in blind tasting

Loring WinesThis might have been one of the best blind Chardonnay tasting line-up I have organized in years. My group of 15 brought some gems for the battle of the whites. The line-up included:

  • Pahlmeyer (94 Parker $75)
  • Lewis Cellars (94 WS $55),
  • Calera Mt. Harlan (94 Parker, $50)
  • Diatom “Hamon” (92 WS, $50)
  • Tor “Hudson” (93 Parker, $54)
  • Marchand (93+ Parker, $70)
  • Peter Michael “Belle Cote” (94 Parker, $120)
  • Failla (94 WS, $45)
  • DuMOL “Clare” (94 Pts, $70)
  • Talley “Rosemary” (94 Parker, $ 60)
  • Flametree (94 Parker, $55)
  • Loring Rosella.

The winner: Loring 2011 “Rosella” Chardonnay

Brian Loring is a rocket scientist turned winemaker, and he told me that he does not regret the move one day! He told me years ago, that one day (he was 40) he was called “pops” by the younger generation and that was his queue to leave and follow this true passion – winemaking!  He had been a home winemaker for years, and it was an easy transition.  The rest is history, as well as some great scores from the various publications!

Loring 2011 "Rosella" ChardonnayLoring 2011 “Rosella” Chardonnay
Retail 53.00 – GGWC 49.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use discount shipping code “LOR11ROS” during check out

The Rosella vineyard has become one of the most sought after sources for great Pinot and Chardonnay.  I can say that Brian Loring hit a home-run with this bottling.   On the nose you are greeted by nectarine and citrus.  The wine is forward from the start.  Gorgeously, and meticulously engineered this wine unfolds with each sip, unveiling another layer after layer. You’ll encounter minerality and lush fruit, all in sync, nicely balanced. Pure, and ripe fruit yet not that tropical character that others seem to embrace, it shows striking flavors similar to the chalky soils of Chablis.  This might be one of the best whites Brian has crafted yet to date!

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Banshee wines on a Roll!

Banshee WinesThree friends. A missed turn. An intimate tasting with Robert Parker. Copious amounts of Champagne. A bird statue in a window.  This is the genesis of Banshee.  Since then they’ve come a long way in short time but the goal hasn’t changed: to craft distinctive wine that over-delivers in every possible way.  They want to give the world wines with real joie de vivre.  Banshee owns no vineyards of its own (yet!) but works in lock-step with high-end vineyard owners and wineries to produce wines of depth, purity and balance.  They spend ridiculous amounts of time working on finalizing each blend, and then try to convince people that “It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.”

Banshee 2010 Mordecai Red
Retail 26.99 – GGWC 24.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use discount shipping code “BANSHEE” during check out.
OK to mix and match with other Banshee wines.

The 2010 Banshee Mordecai Red has a whopping thirteen varietals! The only other wine with 13 varietals is Chateuneuf du Pape, with 9 Red and 4 white. The 2010 blend consists of: Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Carignane (whew I ran out of breath here). One could call this bouillabaisse, but all joking aside, this is an awesome great value priced wine. The result is a worthy follow up to the success of their inaugural blend. This vintage, a Napa Cabernet parcel stepped up to take the lead role but it is fascinating  to  see  how  the  other  varieties express themselves. The Syrah adds a little spiciness, the Grenache bright red fruit, and the Cabernet Franc an intriguing nose. Each piece adds something distinct and essential to the wine.   We like to think of this as a marriage between Bordeaux and Rhone, consummated in California.

Banshee 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail 42.00 – GGWC 39.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use discount shipping code “BANSHEE” during check out.
OK to mix and match with other Banshee wines.

The blend of the 2009 vintage is 87% Cabernet, 8% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot & Malbec – all sourced throughout the Napa Valley including the Ink Grade Vineyard atop Howell Mountain, the low yielding Stagecoach Vineyard in Pritchard Hill, and Coombsville on the valley floor. The wine was aged for 20 months in a mix of new (90%) and one year old French oak barrels. The resulting wine once again manages to find itself dancing comfortably between gregarious crowd-pleaser and poet philosopher. It begins with a pretty floral, lavender and sweet cherry nose. This leads into a middle weight classic palette of black currents, cherry and tobacco. This is all underpinned by a well-integrated set of tannins. A touch of acidity buoys the whole. While it is perfectly accessible now it will age effortlessly on its impeccable balance for another decade.

Banshee 2011 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
Retail 26.99 – GGWC 24.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use discount shipping code “BANSHEE” during check out.
OK to mix and match with other Banshee wines.

This elegant wine meets the eye with a medium ruby hue and offers up subtle hints of cherry and forest floor on the nose. On the palate one finds again a mix of Ranier and black cherries, mountain strawberries, rosehip tea and plum. There are some savory notes following through the finish that give the wine a clean line from front to back.

Banshee 2011 Mordecai Blanc
Retail 26.99 – GGWC 24.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use discount shipping code “BANSHEE” during check out.
OK to mix and match with other Banshee wines.

Hailing from the coolest climates of northern California, where minerals and acidity reign supreme, the 2011 Mordecai White marries the classic Northern Italian varietals of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tocai Friulano, with a cool climate parcels of Chenin Blanc and Viognier. The wine possesses beautiful aromatics with floral and honeysuckle accents, followed by nectarine, apricot and pear nuances. A streak of minerality and citrus darts through stone fruit flavors right to the finish, tying the whole package together with verve and cut.  The wine is a blend of  40% Chardonnay- Sonoma Coast, 19% Sauvignon Blanc- Lake County, 11% Viognier- Sonoma County, 10% Chenin Blanc- Clarksburg and  9% Tocai Friuliano- Mendocino

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Exquisite Value Pinot Noir

Baker Lane Winery

Baker Lane is not a flashy winery, it is a simple farm-like vineyard with an emphasis on observation management, holistic integration (bio-dynamic principles).  The land should speak for itself, is the motto here.  Being at the viticulture climatic edge, has shown itself to be at the very heart of the quality of the Baker Lane.  At Baker Lane, they strive to get the best out the vineyard – as they say, wine is made in the vineyard and not in the winery.

Baker Lane Pinot NoirBaker Lane 2011 Sonoma Coast Cuvee Pinot Noir
Retail 34.00 – GGWC 29.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use discount shipping code “BAKER11SCC” during check out

A 50/50 blend of the Hurst and Ramondo Vineyards, this 2011 Pinot Noir is a “gorgeous” bargain and very attractive from start to finish.  On the nose crushed flowers and red cherries aromas great you, followed on the palate by layers of fleshy red fruit, flowers and a touch of spice.  Complex and well-balanced this wine finishes as it started, gorgeous with long sexy legs.

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Impressive Petite Sirah & Zin at bargain prices

Horse and Plow

Horse and Plow is a small husband and wife run winery in Santa Rosa that focuses on making handcrafted wines exclusively from organic and bio-dynamic grapes. Chris Condos (winemaker/partner) started his career at Pine Ridge in 1995. He is also the day-to-day winemaker for Kathryn Kennedy winery. His wife, Suzanne Hagins started her career at Comte Armand in Pommard and made wine at David Bruce and Golden Eye. They both get down and dirty behind the “Horse and Plow” label.

Horse & Plow 2010 Petit SirahHorse & Plow 2010, Petite Sirah “Testa Vineyard”
Retail 32.00 – GGWC 28.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use discount shipping code “HP10PSZN” during check out
(can mix and match with Zinfandel)

Only 50 cases produced of this mind-boggling old vine Petite Sirah (planted in 1912).  Gorgeous, dense purple hue with an even more amazing bouquet of black and blue stone liqueur and aromatic flowers.  On the palate this full bodied gem is rich, extracted and lush with amazing intensity and depth.  The finish is long and equally complex. This is a value/quality wine for the books!

Horse & Plow 2010 ZinfandelHorse & Plow 2010 Zinfandel “Grist Vineyard” Dry Creek
Retail 33.00 – GGWC 29.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use discount shipping code “HP10PSZN” during check out
(can mix and match with Petite Sirah)

Only 200 cases produced of this 40 year old vine Zinfandel. The color is dark and intense.  Striking aromas of red and black currant with a whiff of tobacco jump out of the glass.  The wine is loaded with luscious, well-balanced fruit with an amazing depth.  The wine goes onto into a very long and layered finish.

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Blind Tasting Cabernet Stunner by Aaron Pott

Jericho Canyon Vineyards

My tasting group assembled some amazing 2009 Cabernets and Bordeaux blends, and the result was even more stunning.  Our line-up included:

  • Alpha Omega “To-Kalon” $140 (94 Parker)
  • Dominus $175 (94 WS)
  • Cimarossa “Rian” $ 85 (95+ Parker)
  • Anderson Conn Valley “Black Label” $125 (96 Parker)
  • Phelps “Insignia” $200 (93 WS)
  • Hall “Bergfeld” $99 (94 Parker)
  • Diamond Creek “Volcanic Hill” $175 (96 Parker)
  • Dunn Howell Mountain $109 (96+ Parker)
  • Buoncristiani $90 (94 Parker)
  • Barrett & Barrett $250 (95+ Parker)
  • Dancing Hares $150.00 (94 Parker/ 93 WS)
  • Caymus ”Special Select” $130 (93 WS)
  • Shafer One Point Five $75 (94 Parker)
  • Opus One $225 (93 WS)
  • Jericho Canyon.

Our group, 18 strong, gave Jericho Canyon 11 first, 6 second and 1 third place votes with an average price of $74.50, which is 50% over its actual cost!

Jericho Canyon Vineyards is located on the Northeast end of the Napa Valley surrounded by Mount St. Helena and the Palisades, on a site where grapes were planted pre-prohibition.  The entire production of this estate hovers around 1500 cases, thus qualifying for “boutique” status.  When you have Aaron Pott as your winemaker, one can only expect to find top notch wines.  The estate is planted to the five Bordeaux varietals and some Syrah, with the majority being Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jericho CanyonJericho Canyon 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon  “Jericho Block”
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 59.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use discount shipping code “JERICHO09BL” during check out

A distinct blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot all sourced from the lower elevation of the estate.  This wine jumps out of the glass with ripe black fruits, blackberry liqueur and espresso bean with captivating aromas of spice and black stone fruit.  Full and rich in body and lush on the palate this wine goes on forever ending with fine, integrated tannins.  This is one for the books!  Only 400 cases produced.

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Saxum Assistant’s Breathtaking Release

Ledge Wines

The Adams Ranch is in the Willow Creek region on the west side of Paso Robles and rests on a plateau with the Santa Lucia Mountains as a backdrop, with a steep drop to Vineyard Drive in the foreground. The vineyard is almost entirely Syrah, with some Grenache and Mourvedre peppered in. The vines are own rooted and reared in the home nursery after pruning each year. Once established, the vines are dry farmed, field-blended and co-fermented using only native yeasts and are aged in neutral oak barrels.  Mark Adams has been the longtime assistant and right-hand man at the Saxum winery, where he also crafts his own wines!

Mark Adams, WinemakerLedge “Adams Ranch” 2010 Syrah
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 59.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use discount shipping code “LEDGE10” during check out.

This wine (90% Syrah, 5% each Grenache and Mourvedre) tickled more than my fancy.  I was blown away by amazing quality of this 150 case production!  The wine offers and amazing deep, dark ruby hue with lively dark stone berry notes jumping out of the glass with a touch of dust and spice.  Well-integrated and complex wine loaded with a lush palate of black berries and black raspberries and a touch of pepper and bacon fat.  The wine rolls over the palate with ease and finishes with a gorgeous and long finish.  Only 150 cases produced!

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Powerhouse Cabernet by Lewis Cellars’ winemaker

Darms Lane Wines

Darms Lane is a family owned winery located in the Oak Knoll district of the Napa Valley.  The 14 acre vineyard was established in 1983 as a Chardonnay estate.  In 2002 it was grafted over to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  The first release was the 2005 vintage.  Only 500 cases are produced each year.  Their wines are crafted by Brian Mox who was the winemaker at Laird, Etude and recently at Lewis Cellars.

Darms Lane 2009 Cabernet SauvignonDarms Lane 2009 “Bon Passe”  Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 59.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use discount shipping code “DARMS09” during check out

Dark hue, the 2009 “Bon Passe” Cabernet exudes intense black stone notes and touches of violets on the nose. The full-bodied palate is rich and well-layered with black stone fruit, plum and black currants with hints of toffee and chocolate flavors. This elegant, yet mouth filling Cabernet showcases silky tannins and finishes with elegance and lengthy wild blackberry notes. This wine has the flavors and suppleness to be enjoyed on its own while maintaining an elegance that will complement many foods.

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Crowd pleasing Pinot Noir (93 Robert Parker)

Walter Hansel Winery

Steve HanselWalter Hansel winery has been synonymous with good quality and well-priced wines for years.  Real crowd-pleasing wines for those who don’t want to break the bank and still want to get a good quality glass of wine.  The 2010 North Slope might be one of Steve Hansel’s best efforts to date.  Even with a 93 from Parker (which I think was 1 or 2 points shy from where it should be) this wine will impress both beginner and advanced oenophile.

Walter Hansel 2010 North Slope Pinot NoirWalter Hansel 2010 North Slope Pinot Noir
Retail 43.00 – GGWC 40.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use discount shipping code “WH10NSPN” during checkout

Out of the starting blocks this wine’s fragrance is breathtaking.  Gobs of spicy black cherry, plums and a whiff of mineral earthiness jump out of the glass.  On the palate, this crowd pleaser is dense and weighty, yet extremely well-balanced and polished with gorgeous deep black fruit, hints of spice, orange zest and a touch of earthy.   The finish is long and equally balanced with the right touch of acid, fruit and spiciness.

Robert Parker 93 Points: “The 2010 Pinot Noir North Slope is a gorgeous wine laced with freshly cut flowers, spices, red berries and minerals. Saline notes are woven throughout, giving the wine its lift and vibrancy. The North Slope boasts gorgeous inner perfume and fabulous overall length. It will be interesting to see where this goes over the coming years. The future appears to be very bright. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022”

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A “To-Kalon, Herb Lamb, Dr. Crane” Cabernet at only $59

Karl Lawrence Wines

Karl Lawrence (Michael Trujillo) has been crafting wines in Napa for 30 years now, and his own label since the early 1990’s.  Sourced from some of the most sought after vineyards in Napa, he really outdid himself with this latest release.  Sourced from the Herb Lamb (Colgin, etal), To-Kalon, Dr. Crane, Morisoli and Henry Brothers (Howell Mountain) this 97% Cabernet and 3% Cabernet Franc blend was hand-harvested and carefully blended to achieve the best balance and perfection.

Karl Lawrence 2009 CabernetKarl Lawrence 2009 Cabernet Napa Valley
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 61.99 – FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use shipping code KL09CS upon check out

Rich, vibrant, dark fruit aromas of beautifully matured fruit soar forward with loads of black currant and black cherry along with spicy hints of tobacco and chocolate.  The abundant flavors that jump out of the glass are plentiful and irresistibly rousing with all the same rich generous flavors sensed in the aroma.  Wonderful balance and complexity with great acidity define this wine as one of the best Karl Lawrence Cabernets ever!  Enjoy now, but this wine will cellar well for years to come!

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