Screaming Eagle Winemaker’s Merlot wins blind tasting

In a recent blind tasting of top-flight Merlots, a small 300 case production winery stunned our group of 16 wine professionals.  The line-up for the 2012 Merlot tasting included:
  • Blankiet Rive Droite (96 WA)
  • Keenan“Reserve” (94 WA)
  • Venge “Estate”(94 WA)
  • Pott “La Carte” (95 WA)
  • Pahlmeyer (95 Galloni)
  • Abeja (93 Galloni)
  • La Jota (96 WA)
  • Constant (94 Galloni)
  • Leonetti (94 WA)
  • Hourglass (92 Galloni)
  • Plumpjack (92 Galloni)
  • Farella “Estate”

Farella Vineyards has been growing premium grapes in Coombsville since 1977. Tom Farella has an impressive list of long-standing clients (Realm, Far Niente, Pahlmeyer, Zeitgeist, Keenan, Relic, Lail etc.) and has produced exceptional Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Malbec under his own label since 1985. Tom and Winemaker Massimo DiCostanzo (Assistant Winemaker at Screaming Eagle) work closely to showcase the exceptional terroir of Coombsville and do it very well.

Farella 2012 Merlot, Estate, Coombsville Napa Valley 
Retail 44.00 – GGWC 39.99 FREE SHIPPING on SIX

Use discount shipping code FAR12M during check out

This is a very intense well-made gem from this small producer, nestled in hills of Coombsville.   The wine offers a deep purple color followed by intense aromas.  The nose is full of blackberries, dark chocolate and lovely floral notes.  Very well structured youngster.  This wine is smooth and rich on the palate, loaded with bright  flavors of pure and lush black fruits, with a long, smooth, spice-driven finish.

Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

Pritchard Hill under $65 GEM ~ Only 300 cases produced!

Kale Anderson is the day-to-day “red wine” winemaker at Pahlmeyer.  In his spare time he moonlights to craft his own “Kale” label.  The Kale “Broken Axle” is a Syrah, Grenache blend from the infamous Stagecoach vineyard in the Pritchard Hill region of the property at 1500’ elevation.  Only 300 cases of this little gem were produced!

Stagecoach Vineyard is the largest contiguous vineyard in the Napa Valley spanning multiple AVAs, and four distinct regions. With planting started in 1995, Jan Krupp has removed billions of pounds of volcanic rock. Heavy mining equipment is used to prepare the soil before planting. There are behemoth dump trucks that have lived and died on the property inspiring the name “Broken Axle.”

The “Kale” blocks of Syrah (Alban clone) and Grenache (Alban clone) are located in the Pritchard Hill region of the property at 1500’ elevation. The soils are red Hambright complexes and with Guenoc outcroppings. Dynamite was used to clear this well-exposed southwest slope. The soils are de-vigorating to the vines due to great drainage and sparse nutrients. The vines produce light crops of extremely small black berries transforming into intense, powerful wines.
Kale 2012 Broken Axle “Stagecoach Vineyard” Pritchard Hill Region Napa Valley
Retail 70.00 – GGWC 64.99 – FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use code KALE upon checkout

The 2012 Broken Axle is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache.  The wine offers a dark purple/violet hue. The aroma matches the color with asphalt, fresh blueberry, and gravel. This is Kale’s richest and silkiest wine to date. The intense southern exposure at 1500’ on Pritchard Hill smooths the tannins into a cacao-like texture. A wide mid-palate gains momentum through the finish. Nuance of white pepper minerality holds together the tight core of this wine suggesting age-ability like the other wines from this region.
Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

A California wine with Basque roots

Tannat is not a household name, but it is a real beauty and a great value.  The “forgotten” varietal from the France I call it.  Tannat’s roots reach through the same French countryside as Yannick’s. As one of the Southwest of France’s hallmark red  beauties, it hails from the Madiran region near the Pyrénées mountains.

Rousseau 2012 Tannat, Saralee Vineyard Russian River Valley
Retail 38.00 – GGWC 34.99 FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use code ROUS12T upon checkout

The Rousseau 2012 Tannat is a real stunner. Dark purple to black hues. An enticing, complex nose develops into quite expressive aromas of black cherry and blueberry pie, cassis, licorice and violet.  Full in body, this wine is lush and densely concentrated, yet extremely silky and elegant on the mid-palate.  Loaded with bright red stone fruit (ripe cherries and plums) laced with a touch of violet, anise and a touch of spice.  This is an incredibly well-crafted wine with a stunning balance and seemingly long finish.  This Tannat can be paired with a bunch of great foods like a Hanger Steak, Beef Bourguignon, Game and Chocolate dessert. Only 200 cases produced.

Also check out –


Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

100 Point winemaker’ sensational Napa Cab

Father and son McSharry both had a love for wine.  Gerry McSharry developed a love of fine wine though a lifetime working in Media.   He created one of the world’s leading media companies with offices in fifteen countries around the globe.  When his son Paul, who had started a wine import business, met Mark Herold in 2009 and immediate “love affair” developed and it didn’t take Paul long to persuade this father to bankroll what would become the Maze venture.

Maze 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 74.99  FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use code MAZE upon checkout.

The 2012 Maze Cabernet is very impressive from start to finish.  Mark Herold pulled out all the stops for this one.  He sourced from some of Napa’s most amazing vineyards to craft this puppy.  The color is very intense and it shows on the nose. Powerful notes of crème de cassis, anise, chocolate and a touch of espresso jump out of the glass of this full-bodied wine. On the palate this rubenesque wine is complex, lush and flavorful, typical Mark Herold, yet extremely well-balanced and sophisticated.   The bold mid-palate of lush black current, chocolate and a touch of valley floor lead into a long finish with long grained, but silky tannins.  Robert Parker rated this wine 94 Points!

Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

Exquisite Napa White under $24

Kenefick Ranch Vineyards is owned by retired San Francisco neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas P. Kenefick, and his two children Caitlin and Chris Kenefick. In 1978 Dr. Kenefick acquired a 125-acre vineyard property next door to the Eisele Estate (Araujo). This vineyard was head pruned and dry farmed with old Italian varietals. Over the next 20 years these were replaced with Bordeaux varietals on vertical shoot positioning and drip irrigating for higher quality grapes. 95% of the grapes are sold to various wineries and only small quantities are produced from the estate.
Kenefick Ranch 2013 “Estate” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Retail 27.00 GGWC 23.99  FREE SHIPPING on 12+
Use code KEN13SB upon checkout
One of the most remarkable Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted the past couple of years. The wine is absolutely gorgeous from start to finish.  Stunning aromas of honeysuckle, bright orchard fruit, white flowers and a touch of spice jump out of the glass.  The wine is amazingly intense  with terrific acidity and bright fruit offered up in a great body that is rich, yet extremely well-balanced.  Stunning mouthfeel and a lengthy finish make for a picture perfect SB!
Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

95+ Rated Paul Lato offerings

Paul Lato has been producing some of the most amazing wines over the past decade and has not gone unnoticed by the press with many 96-98 point ratings.  All of Paul’s bottlings are very limited productions, but amazingly well-crafted.  Paul is probably one of the most meticulous winemakers I have ever met.  Attention to detail from start to finish.  Paul is involved in the entire process from day one. From harvest into dormancy and pruning; all the way to dropping fruit during the growing season and hand-picking only the very best bunches his vines yield.  He’d rather only sell two barrels of amazing wine versus selling six of “OK” wine.

The 2013 Paul Lato wines are MINDBOGGLING but VERY limited! I wish I could say that I have a lot to offer, but I don’t.  As it has been the case in the past years, this wine will sell out within 72 hours of our offering! This is a “futures” sale, the wines should be in stock mid-March 2015, with the exception of the Syrah and Grenache a few months later.

FREE SHIPPING on  6+ bottles (mix & match ok) within the 48 states (HI & AK orders a surcharge for air shipping will apply) – USE CODE “PAULLATO13″ during check out.  The wines will arrive in late March, except for the Syrah and Grenache (late summer)

Paul Lato was born in Poland. He worked as a certified Sommelier in Toronto’s most exclusive restaurants and visited California for the first time in the early 1990′s. Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climate and Clendenen wines) told Paul to just pack up and move here, and he would show him the ropes – 14 years later he did make the move and took a job at Bien Nacido vineyards for just $10.00 per hour, he did get free “lodging” at the bunkhouse in the vineyard. The Bien Nacido owner pushed Paul to make his own wine. With some tutoring (he observed the best in the business for some years, asked a lot of questions and experimented a lot) he made his first wines and by chance met Robert Parker.  Parker asked him if “he” was the Polish Sommelier that makes wine and said that he wanted to taste it.  Parker told him that he would tell him immediately if the wine was the real McCoy or …. (slang for excrement – I like to keep my pages PG 13). The rest, as they say, is history.  Parker was blown away and gave Paul Lato a rave review. From then on, Paul’s new career was born (FYI – his first vintage he made 6 barrels of wine, 3 different wines)  I met Paul in 2005 and have been a big fan since day one, and could say that we have become good friends along the way.

Paul Lato 2013  Chardonnay “Le Souvenir” Santa Maria Valley
Retail 77.00 – GGWC 74.99

This is a more than worthy follow-up to the ‘11 & ‘12 bottling which received a 97 Point rating!. This wine might be Paul’s boldest production, yet another gem in my book.  It is by far Paul’s smallest bottling, only 4 barrels produced.  The 2013 is a carbon copy of the 2011 that received rave reviews from my clients and critics alike! I’d be shocked not to see similar scores, or higher!

“20+year-old Wente clone vines provide the foundation of this classic Chardonnay. An aroma of alpine flowers rise through mineral notes of broken stone and granite. The palate is velvety and generous but is light on its feet with a zesty, refreshing acidity, with a touch of vanilla and a long finish. Succulent and fresh. 65% New French oak yet the oak is nuanced.”

Robert Parker (2011 vintage) 97 Points:  “From a 4 acre, south-facing plot and vines planted 15 years ago, the 2011 Chardonnay Le Souvenir Sierra Madre Vineyard (aged in 65-70% new French oak) delivers slightly more richness and texture, with gorgeously pure aromas and flavors of baked apple tart, toasted hazelnut, brioche and crisp minerality. Thrilling on the palate, with a medium to full-bodied profile, awesome detail and delineation, and a seamless finish, it should be given another year or so and will knock your socks off through 2021.”

Paul Lato 2013 Chardonnay “Belle de Jour” Hilliard Bruce Vyd
Retail 77.00 – GGWC 74.99

This is the fourth release and has created a real following.  I would be hard pressed, but I can tell you that this one is every bit as good as the 2012 (95 Pt WA) bottling, maybe a touch more focused and more elegant! A real “skilled” winemaker gem! Due to the success with the 2012 vintage I have a lot of demand for this bottling and it will be sold out well before it arrives at my store!

Robert Parker 2012 review 95 Points: “The finest vintage of this cuvee to date (it was first made in ‘10), the ‘12 “Belle de Jour” Hilliard Bruce Vineyard is one of the top Chardonnays coming out of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA today. Barrel-fermented and aged 16 months in 50% new French oak, it boast knockout aromatics of white peach, apple blossom, white flowers, buttered almonds hints of minerality that flow seamlessly to a full-bodied, rich, textured white that has vibrant acidity, thrilling purity and a focused finish. It will be better in another 6-12 months and knock it out of the park for 3-5 years.”

Paul Lato 2013 Chardonnay “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 75.99 

This is the Third Release of the “East of Eden” Chardonnay from the famed Pisoni Vineyard. Only a few barrels were produced, and I was lucky to get a few cases from Paul as they were all earmarked for his mailing list and for restaurants like French Laundry, Per Se, Gary Danko, etc.

This is probably the best rendition of a 1er Cru Montrachet produced in California.  As you are well aware of Paul’s meticulous wine-making skills and strategy, nothing escapes this guru of precision! I’d say that this wine is very similar to the great ‘11 & ‘12 vintage, which got 95+ Points from Parker!

Paul Lato notes: “The low-yields of the blustery Santa Lucia Highlands contribute a muscular, razor-sharp, and refined character to the Pisoni fruit. Several French customers have compared this wine to “Corton,” but the almost tannic structure here belies a true elegance of form. 60% new French oak beautifully integrated with notes of Granny Smith apple and lemon rind. The James Bond of my Chardonnay portfolio: muscle and brains in a tight package.”

Robert Parker 95 Points: “The largest scaled of the Chardonnay lineup and spending upwards of 15 months in 75% new French oak, the Chardonnay East of Eden Pisoni Vineyard offers up a reserved, slightly backwards bouquet of ripe golden apples, white peach, charcoal, toast and hints of brioche. This flows to a dense, concentrated effort that needs another year or two to round into form. Serious, concentrated and yet laser-focused, it will age beautifully through 2021. Drink 2015-2021.”

Paul Lato 2013 Pinot Noir “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99

This is a more than worthy follow-up to the 2012 bottling.  This wine might be Paul’s boldest production, yet another gem in my book.  It is by far Paul’s smallest bottling, only 3 barrels produced.  The 2013 is a mirror image of the previous vintages that received rave reviews from both my clients and critics alike!

Robert Parker 94+ Points: “A larger-scaled style of Pinot emerges in the Atticus John Sebastiano Vineyard. This is a distinctly big, fruit-driven Pinot long on style and personality. The yields are extremely low in this site, and while the wine has fabulous concentration, it also lacks the finesse of the best wines in the lineup. Today, my impression is that the Atticus needs time to settle down a touch, although it will always retain some of its pure and, at times, rough-around-the-edges, enthusiasm.”

Paul Lato 2013 Pinot Noir “Happiness” Hillard Bruce Vineyard
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99

This might be the best Happiness bottling to date!  This rendition of the Hilliard Bruce Vineyard’s “Happiness” will make you (happily) dream of a 1er Cru Pommard at a much lower price point!  This latest release is Paul’s best effort to-date and I have only 5 cases of this wine to offer!

Robert Parker 95 Points: “A smoking Pinot Noir, Lato’s 2012 Pinot Noir Happiness Hilliard Bruce Vineyard sports a deep ruby color to go with incredible aromas and flavors of raspberries, cola, dried spices and assorted floral nuances that continue to develop with time in the glass. Coming from clones 667, 777 and Calera, it has a gorgeous richness and depth, yet stays elegant, lively and pure, with a core of sweet fruit and a clean finish. There’s an almost Burgundian-like quality here, yet it has fabulous fruit and texture. Enjoy this beauty over the coming 7-8 years or so.”

Paul Lato 2013 Pinot Noir “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard
Retail 87.00 – GGWC 83.99

This latest Zotovich “Seabiscuit” bottling is by far Paul’s best effort to date! I would say that it could even outdo his 96 Point rated 2012 version!  As it is the case with all of Paul’s wines, I get limited amounts of this great gems, so I can only remind you how great and limited they are!

Robert Parker 96 Points: “Last of the Sta. Rita Hills releases, the 2012 Pinot Noir Seabiscuit Zotovich Vineyard is the most authoritative, rich and muscular effort in the lineup. Loaded with ripe black fruits, plum, licorice, ground herbs, violets and spring flowers, it stays remarkably fresh and pure on the palate, with beautiful focus, a deep, rich mid-palate and sweet tannin. Give this beauty another year in the cellar and enjoy bottles through 2022.”

Paul Lato 2013 Pinot Noir “Suerte” Solomon Hills
Retail 87.00 – GGWC 83.99

Paul is not slowing down one bit, and this workhorse “Suerte” will amaze many Pinot lovers alike! It shows gorgeously young, and will even improve a lot more in the years to come!  Only a few barrels produced! The 2013 is any bit as good as the 96 point rated 2013 vintage!

Robert Parker 96 Points: “Even better, the 2012 Pinot Noir Suerte Solomon Hills Vineyard has a vibrant, perfumed and beautifully clear personality that has more than a passing resemblance to a Grand Cru Burgundy. Darker berry fruits, spice-box, licorice, mint and exotic floral nuances are all present here, and it hits the palate with a voluptuous texture that carries bright acidity, ripe tannin and full-bodied richness. From a cool site that lies within sight of the Pacific Ocean, it has both richness and freshness, and will have over a decade of longevity. It’s a fabulous bottle of Pinot Noir!”

Paul Lato 2013 Pinot Noir “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard
Retail 97.00 – GGWC 94.99

The “flagship” wine of Paul’s Portfolio!  I don’t need to tell you that the Pisoni vineyard is often compared to the best (1er and Grand Cru) vineyards in Burgundy, and Paul puts a real Burgundian twist on this source!  This wine equals the best of the previous Lancelot bottlings and could even surpass it!  VERY LIMITED!

Robert Parker 96+ Points: “The most rich and structured of the lineup, the Paul Lato Pinot Noir Lancelot Pisoni Vineyard (aged in 75% new French oak) offers up spectacular aromas and flavors of ripe raspberry, blackberry, crushed stone, toast and incense. Medium to full-bodied, rich and voluptuously textured, yet also incredibly elegant and refined, this knockout California-styled beauty should be even better in another year and thrill through 2023. Drink 2015-2023.”

Paul Lato 2013 Syrah “Cinematique” Larner Vineyard
Retail 95.00 – GGWC 89.99

This is in my book “THE” best Cinematique to-date bar-none! I believe strongly that is equal, if not better than the great 2012, 2008 and 2007 vintages (97 Point rating).  I’d be surprised that this wine will not see very high 90 scores again!

Robert Parker 97 Points: “The 2013 Syrah Cinematique Larner Vineyard exudes class and elegance on both the nose and palate. Possessing a captivating bouquet that continues to change in the glass, it reveals a core of black raspberries, violets, graphite, dusty soil and dried flowers. These carry to a full-bodied, perfectly balanced Syrah that has layers of pure fruit, integrated acidity and that fine-grained tannin quality that comes only from sandy soils. More supple and elegant than the Bien Nacido release, without quite the same level of concentration, it excels on its purity, balance and overall harmony. I suspect it will gain a touch more weight with short-term cellaring and it will have 10-15 years of overall longevity.”

Paul Lato Notes: “In just a few short years, this vineyard has become a holy grail for Rhône varietals in Santa Barbara County, receiving critical acclaim for the quality of the grapes and viticultural practices. Christine Larner and her son, Michael, also a winemaker, are ardent about the continued care and development of their vineyard. The natural beauty of the site with its rolling, sun-splashed hills creates an incredibly peaceful vibe. The Syrah clones of Estrella and 877 planted in this picturesque site produce a rich, intensely flavored wine that retains its elegance.”

Paul Lato 2013 Syrah “Il Padrino” Bien Nacido
Retail 95.00 – GGWC 92.99

This is becoming Paul Lato’s BEST Syrah bottling numerous years in a row.  If one were in the Rhone Valley, it would put many of the big names to shame!  In a recent tasting Paul’s Il Padrino bottling beat out 100 point wines like Alban’s Reva, and others!  I only get 5 cases of this gem, so jump on it NOW, as this might be the year of a 100 Point Syrah from Lato! This wine gets 95-98 points every release!

Robert Parker 95 Points: “More masculine (about as masculine as any of Paul’s wines get? which isn’t very masculine), the 2012 Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard (100% Syrah aged in 85% new French oak) had loads of creme de cassis, wood smoke, cracked pepper, salty minerality and ground herbs to go with a medium to full-bodied, layered, pure and overall fresh profile on the palate. It’s the incredible purity of fruit that really sets this apart. Also showing building, finely polished tannin on the finish, give this smoking Syrah another year or so and drink it through 2027.”

Paul Lato 2013 Grenache “White Piano” Padwerski
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 69.99

This is the second release from this great vineyard which is very reminiscent to the ones in the Rhone region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  This is a very sophisticated wine from an amazing vineyard source. Lush, aromas and vibrant flavors from start to finish! A little sidebar – the Paderewski  vineyard was started by Paul Lato’s countryman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, world famous pianist and former Prime Minister of Poland!

Robert Parker 93 Points: “Also transparent ruby in color, the 2012 Grenache Paderewski Vineyard has a juicy, forward feel in its strawberry, bubble gum, rose petal and sweet spice-driven personality. Medium-bodied, layered and nicely fruited, it has a textured, sweetly fruited feel that’s geared for drinking over the coming 5-7 years.

Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

Top Notch under $44 Napa Cab

Le Pich is the culmination of several seasoned and determined wine professionals’ efforts to produce the finest Cabernet Sauvignon possible from the best estate vineyards in Napa Valley including Pritchard Hill all under the guidance of winemaker Julien Fayard (assistant winemaker at Lafite Rothschild, Dalla and Philippe Melka’s projects) and ace viticulturist Steve Matthiasson.  The production is minimal, so it will not be around for a long time!

Purlieu “Le Pich” 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 
Retail 48.00 – GGWC 43.99 FREE SHIPPING on 6+
Use CODE LEPICH upon checkout

This might be “FIND” of the month! Sourced from the To-Kalon, Pritchard Hill & Teucer vineyards.  Tthis wine offers a deep, rich purple color and amazing aroma and body.  A gorgeous nose of black currants and chocolate jump out of the glass.  The mouthfeel is rich and creamy with stunning flavors of dark fruits, black plum, espresso and chocolate that leads to an explosive finish.  The wine arouses you on impact with sweet subtleties that tickle your palate.  The wine, full in body, is very elegant yet explosive without being a tannic monster, although I would suggest to decant this for an hour or two, this wine will age gracefully for a good 15 years!

Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!

Must have 2012 Syrah under $25

Karen Culler has been crafting great wines for 2+ decades now (Wolf, Culler, etc).  Her “value” label Casaeda has been lots of fun to work with.  She sourced this 2012 from two stellar vineyards (Dehlinger and Sawi).    Sawi is located at 1450 feet elevation and planted 15+ years ago to the Cote Rotie seletion of Syrah.  This is a late ripening vineyard, producing amazing fruit intensity, concentration due to its small berry size.  Dehlinger is somewhat the “First Growth” of the Russian River Valley (only 3 acres planted).

Casaeda 2012 Syrah Russian River Valley
Use code CAS12SYR upon checkout

A real crowd pleaser, this “Value” wine from Karen Culler.  Very classy wine!  This youngster offers great complexity and an abundance of fruit and flavors.   Floral, licorice,  peppery aromas jump out of the glass on impact.  A touch of bacon fat underlines this great clonal selection.   The wine is full in body with the right touch of acidity, a hint of sweet black stone fruit and savory touches make for a hard-to-resist wine.  Small production!

Click here or on the links above or call 415-337-4083 to order!