#1 Rising Star “94 Point” Cabernet

In 1999 Mary Rocca and Eric Grigsby purchased the 21 acre property after a 3 year search for the “ideal” vineyard site.  Mary called upon renowned winemaker Celia Welch, then Celia Masyczek to produce the label’s first vintages. The debut bottling was the 2000 Syrah, a varietal which to this day garners praise and awards for the Rocca family.

But Rocca really got on the map in 2002, when its Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet came in #1 in a blind tasting of 12 Rising Star Cabernets. Later, the wine was taken with a group of 12 other Cabernets to show in France’s 12 Best Cabernets from California. It came in #1 over there as well. Finally, those same 12 Cabs had another blind tasting competition in SF to see how they would rank by American consumers. It came in #1 again! Rocca’s star was rising fast. But so far they have been much under the radar, but I have a feeling that this will change soon. The current winemaker Paul Colantuoni worked for many years under Celia Welch and has taken a few pages out of her “note book” and it shows with the new wines.

Rocca 2013 Cabernet “Grigsby” Estate, Napa Valley 
Retail 90.00 – GGWC 84.99
NEARLY FREE SHIPPING ($0.01) on 6 bottles or more
Use code ROCCA13 on checkout

The  2013 Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is the deepest, richest, most complete and balanced version of this wine Rocca has ever produced.  It shows gorgeous weight and density, supported by the exquisitely resolved tannins of the extraordinary 2013 vintage.  The overall theme here is one of perfectly ripe dark red fruit, especially sweet black cherries, beautifully complemented by sophisticated spice and floral elements as well as prominent notes of vineyard dust and rock quarry dust.  The quality of the vintage is particularly evident on the mid-palate, where tremendous richness perfectly matches the luscious black cherry flavors, and on a highly polished, silky smooth finish that seems to last forever.  This is one that you can enjoy for a long, long time to come.

Robert Parker 94 Points: ”The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Grigsby Vineyard from Yountville is a softer, almost Margaux-style of wine compared to the Coombsville. The wine offers Asian plum sauce, a touch of ripe, black cherries and blackcurrants, background smoky oak and a nice fleshy full-bodied mouthfeel with velvety tannins and well-integrated acidity, wood and alcohol. This is a beauty that can be drunk now, or cellared for another 15 years.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Inaugural 94 Point Rated, 4 barrel release from the infamous McGagh (a.k.a. Scarlett) vineyard


Kale Anderson has put Pahlmeyer back on a path to success, but it is his own label that caught my eye and will turn lots of heads in years to come.  Kale is the day-to-day winemaker for the Cabernet and Merlot production at Pahlmeyer.  As for his Kale “Heritage” this was sourced from the “First Growth” McGagh (Scarlett) vineyard in Rutherford.  Kale produces a mere 115 cases of this stunning “Heritage” a blend of 87% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah. This is a winery to jump on now, as I see “CULT” all over it!

Kale 2014 “Heritage” GSM – McGagh Vineyard, Napa
Retail 65.00 – GGWC 61.99
Use code KALE14 during checkout

This is the inaugural vintage of the Kale “Heritage” and the first Grenache-based blend in Kale’s  portfolio. Luxurious strawberry pie, and wild raspberry marmalade aromas lead to a rounded palette. Fresh plum, fig compote and hints of cinnamon are layered through the full-bodied finish. The wine is focused in approach, but expands through the finish. Hedonistic and savory. Enjoy now through 2030.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2014 Heritage McGah Vineyard from Rutherford, is 87% Grenache and the rest 8% Mourvédre and 5% Syrah. This is another sexy wine with. peppery, Provencal herb and strawberry notes soard from the glass of this fragrant, intriguing wine. It is medium to full-bodied with loads of glycerin, a voluptuous texture and a long, pure finish. Drink it over the next 5-6 years.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Holiday Gift Suggestions to Make Every Oenophile Smile!

Winter is nearly here and the Holiday gifting season is fast on its heels. If you are getting this email it means that you or someone you know is a member of that rare and delightful group of people known as the Oenophiles! And when it comes to a lover of wine, you know that there is only one gift that will really light up a smile!

So this year we have some special suggestions and offers for you to help pick the perfect gift. Whether it be single bottles (or a case) of the best new releases that Napa has to offer OR a carefully crafted themed gift case, here are the wines that will delight…

~Click here or on the selections below to order~


~Click here or on the selections above to order~

Champagne can improve your Love Life

Champagne can Improve your Love Life… Yes it really can!

By Christopher Walkey

Your mind will run wild I’m sure with thoughts on what would improve on your love life, some things most obvious and other tips and tricks so very unique and clever, but how does Champagne fare when it comes to moving that love dial upwards?

I usually lightly joke when people ask me what benefits to your health and your love life Champagne can offer. I suppose many of us would have read over recent years the news that a few glasses of bubbly a week can help improve your memory and I usually say this is the single most important part of how it improves your existing love life and your chances of finding new love. What do I mean by this you ask? Well, if like me you have a poor memory and especially for names, it can well save you a relationship of two having a Champagne fueled memory to prevent those times you call your partner by another name or meet up with someone new and you get that name blocking moment which doesn’t get things off to the perfect start… Drink more Champagne, so not to be introduced to someone and seconds later, you can’t remember her/his name!

As we said, Champagne is said to improve your memory, so never be stuck again remembering that special person’s name!

Been invited to a friend’s party and want to make the right impression? Then you must be the person that doesn’t turn up with the six pack of lager and instead opt for that bottle or magnum of Champagne, yes it may set you back a few extra pounds (that is pounds in money and not in weight), but it will be worth it as eyes will light up, you’ll be best pals with everyone and you also get to pop or choose who pops that bubbly and you can even give it that celebration spray, great social media photo opportunities eh… ? Leastways, it’s certainly better than pulling that ring on the next can of lager.

First impressions on that first date. “Would you like to meet up for a glass of Champagne somewhere?” Now that is a chat up line that many will be unable to resist. Champagne and romance are well known to be close friends, so mixing the two, especially on that first date really does get things off to the perfect start… But be warned, once you start things off with Champagne then it is very much downhill from there so to maintain your chances you may need to maintain the flow of Champagne!

We are nearly all guilty of never having enough time and being full of excuses, time seems to fly by we commonly say and how can I fit anything more into my already busy life of work and family… But sometimes, even just once a month, that romantic break away from it all with a bottle of Champagne can just be what a relationship needs to remind itself of what living a life together is all about. Even if you haven’t time to go out and chose that bottle of bubbly each month, you can order Champagne online and each month you’ll get something new and exciting to experience. Now you mix that with a plate of oysters and maybe some special chocolates then oh la, la… !

Champagne being popped open is one of the best and most recognized sounds in the world. It makes everyone feel excited and will most certainly excite that partner you are looking to impress!

With all of that in mind, here are a few BUBBLY suggestions:

Don’t forget to use the discount LOVE upon checkout for the 0.01 (i.e. almost FREE) SHIPPING on 6 bottles or more!

Napa Valley Wine Appellations ~Part Two~

Napa Valley

Picking up where we left off last week at the southern end of the valley floor, we find ourselves in the Oak Knoll District. It is not as warm as the AVA’s to its north but still gets hot in the summer. Not only Cabernet Sauvignon, but other varieties that don’t do as well in the heat, such as Riesling, are planted. One of our current favorites from Oak Knoll is the Barrelhead Cabernet Franc, which has some richness but is also distinctly Cab Franc, with hints of pepper and tobacco.

The Stags Leap District northwest of Oak Knoll is the valley floor “star,” known for its superb Cabernet Sauvignon. It has the perfect combination of hot days in the summer, temperature moderating wind, volcanic rocks and a clay foundation. The wines have body, acidity, elegance and finesse. Several famous wineries are based here and many others, big and small such as BENCH VINEYARD, source Cabernet Sauvignon from its golden terroir.

Heading north you’ll hit Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena. It gets warmer as you move further from the San Pablo Bay so by the time you reach St. Helena there are very few cooling influences. The usual suspects – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay – are widely planted but Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Viognier are also grown. With Highway 29 running the course of these towns, several big names including SPOTTSWOODE in St. Helena are easy to find yet lesser-known producers including TRESPASS , ROCCA and YOUNT RIDGE are scattered along the way.

The Tofanelli Family Vineyard
in Calistoga at winter.

Calistoga is the most northern AVA in Napa. Lodged into the Mayacamas Mountain Range, it is hot and has become recognized for its big, rich red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. TOFANELLI, which was founded in Calistoga in 1929, makes classic, powerful Zinfandel from organically grown fruit.  Another crowd-pleaser is KELLY FLEMING, known for her big Cabernet and elegant Sauvignon Blanc

The Diamond Mountain District is south of Calistoga. It has a density of volcanic matter, giving the wines a penetrating sense of minerality. Cabernet Sauvignon is king but there is a lot of Cabernet Franc and some Merlot as well, both of which are usually added as blending grapes. A new producer (older vineyard) is SUMMITVINE making an amazing, limited production from this estate.

Spring Mountain hovers over St. Helena. At its peak, it is 2600 feet, more than 2000 feet higher than the top aspect of Diamond Mountain. The most coveted land is at the higher altitudes above the fog line that create full-bodied, tannic red wines, amazing Merlot, PALOMA and fruity Sauvignon Blanc.

Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls,
founder and matriarch of Mt. Veeder’s
O’Shaughnessy winery.

Mount Veeder, which is south of Spring Mountain, is Napa’s largest AVA other than the Napa AVA (which, by the way, was granted in 1981) itself. It is as high as Spring Mountain and has a similar microclimate.  Other than Sauvignon Blanc, the same grapes are grown. LONGTABLE makes a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) that offers a delicious mouthful of packed fruit that is pretty representative of the appellation. THOMAS-HSI is a new-comer with a stellar Cabernet and of course O’SHAUGHNESSY cannot be forgotten as one of the best Cabernet producers in Napa.

Napa shares Los Carneros with Sonoma. This is the coolest AVA in Napa, getting a double whammy of wind from the San Pablo Bay to the south and Petaluma Gap to the west. It is extremely well-known for Pinot Noir and vivacious Chardonnay such as the wine we carry from COHO and HUDSON.  Many winemakers, ARIETTA just to name one, also like its cooler renditions of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are not as fruit driven as their counterparts from other parts of Napa.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the most popular grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Chardonnay – still reign throughout most of Napa, a host of Italian varieties as well as Semillon and others have taken root and the results are promising. Napa Valley is constantly evolving but we have a pretty good idea which grapes work in different spots and how they are vary from place to place. This keeps it exciting for wine drinkers and reminds us, and the rest of the wine drinking world that Napa is far from a homogenous region but one that has focus and at the same time, diversity.

Pritchard Hill Cabernet STUNNER

Greg Melanson first came to the wine country on vacation at age 18. After graduation from U.S.C. in 1975 he moved to San Francisco to start a legal document management company. During those early years he learned to fly and skydive at the Pope Valley Parachute Ranch. Greg caught the bug for both soaring and wine which prompted him to purchase a 10 acre vineyard in Calistoga at age 25. In his mid 30’s Greg sold his Calistoga vineyard and purchased a vineyard on Pritchard Hill. He now commands a premium for his fruit and is serious about making world-class Cabernet Sauvignon (wineries such as Pulido-Walker, Tor-Kenward, etc. etc).  The vineyard is directly above COLGIN IX Estate nearby Gandona, Brand, etc. – so in amazing company!

Melanson 2013 “Estate” Cabernet, Pritchard Hill
Retail 130.00 – GGWC 124.99
NEARLY FREE SHIPPING ($0.01) on 4 bottles or more!
Use code MELANSON upon checkout

The 2013 sourced from the best block of the Melanson rocky soil vineyard on Pritchard Hill offers up an amazing aroma of black stone fruit, chocolate, a hint of tobacco and licorice.  On the palate this gentle giant showcases its true Pritchard Hill character.  The wine is opulent, full-bodied and multi-dimensional.  Flavors of black currants, black berries, hint of dark chocolate and a little of dustiness coat the bold, yet very elegant palate of this youngster.  The tannins are there, but nicely integrated.  I suggest decanting this wine for a few hours.  Limited production!

Click here or on the links above to order!

French Laundry’s Favorite White

When Sommeliers recommend and drink Sauvignon Blanc they often prefer, the dry, earthy, mineral, floral whites of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and Graves. This is the inspiration for Somm Blanc, a blend of Old Vines Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon “Remixed” in California.  When a great Master sommelier friend of mine, Will Sherrer, got the opportunity to use the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in California, which were planted in 1942, he jumped on it. The Lolonis Vineyard brings these old vines flavors to  the “Somm Blanc.” Old Vines are much like people in that they are simple yet powerful when young (1 to 21yrs), powerful and complex in mid age (22 to 50yrs) and less powerful but very complex when old (50 to 100yrs).

SOMM BLANC 2015 “Old Vines” Proprietary White
Retail $40.00 – GGWC $35.99
$0.01 (Almost Free) Shipping on 6 or more
Use shipping code SOMM at checkout

Somm Blanc blended 80% of Sauvignon Blanc with 20%  old vines Semillon. His idea was to treat these grapes to an “old world” style of fermentation to maximize earthy, floral tones of Sauvignon Blanc without as much of the fruity, grassy elements of new world styles. The Semillon was fermented to bring out the varietal earthy, spice unique to Semillon. The grapes were neutral barrel fermented with partial skin contact and good lees stirring. The flavors begin with the earthy and mineral with slight musk notes. Fruit flavors are grapefruit and sweet lime zest with a finish of quince and dried papaya.  White flowers and slight spice reminiscent of a mild yellow curry.  Altogether, a very well-made, complex and flavorful wine that will please many palates!

Click here or on the links above to order!

WINE WAKE UP CALL – 94 Point, 200 case production

Bill and Cindy Wenzlau purchased 100 acres, but only planted 12 ½ of them (8½ to Pinot 4 to Chardonnay).  For 2 decades they fantasized about owning their own vineyard.   But it was not until their sommelier son Tommy came back from a trip to France that he persuaded his family to look for land.  They scoured California and came across this gorgeous property in the Santa Rita Hills and the rest as they say was history and the Wenzlau Vineyard was born!  The first vintages were made by Paul Lato and as of 2012 Justin Willett (Tyler) has been at the helm of this great winery.

Wenzlau 2014 Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Rita Hills
Retail 53.00 – GGWC 49.99
$0.01 (i.e. almost FREE SHIPPING) on 6+ bottles
Use code WENZLAU upon checkout

This 200 case Wenzlau Estate production offers up gorgeous scents of white flowers,  citrus, toasted nut and apple blossom on the nose. On the palate you’ll encounter a remarkable Chardonnay loaded with bright acidity, a lush, rich mid-palate, and a seamless texture that carries beautifully pure fruit .  This is one of the most elegant and silky Chardonnays – a real joy to drink. This wine will “grow” in the bottle with some time.

Anthony Galloni 94 Points: “The 2014 Chardonnay Estate is one of the most distinctive of the wines I tasted from Wenzlau this year. Bright lemon, mineral, salt and chalk give the Chardonnay its bright, salivating personality, but there is plenty of understated depth and structure lying in reserve. This is an impressive, powerful yet also reserved Chardonnay from one of the top vineyard sites in the Sta. Rita Hills.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Napa Valley Wine Appellations ~Part One~

Napa Valley

People sometimes forget that Napa Valley is a valley and that there are differences between the areas on the valley floor and the higher areas in and around the mountains. Not only does the altitude affect the fruit, but it also impacts the micro-climates and variations in soil composition.

The Vaca Range and the Mayacamas Mountains bookend the valley. Ancient volcanoes formed much of the region but the soil types are diverse, with volcanic material and alluvial (clay) soils making up the bulk of the land. In general, the floor has denser alluvial soil that is good for water retention. The mountains have less clay and a high concentration of volcanic soil that provide a lot of drainage. As a result, the mountain fruit is often more intense.

In total, Napa has 16 AVA’s:

Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mount Veeder, Oak Knoll, Oakville, Rutherford, Spring Mountain, St. Helena, Stags Leap, Wild Horse Valley, and Rutherford.

The O’Shaugnessy Estate
on Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain, the most northern AVA on the Vaca range, is also one of the warmest parts of Napa. Because of its altitude (1400 – 2600 feet) it sits above the fog line and since it is far from the San Pablo Bay, it does not receive any of the cooling marine influences. It is superb for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah, grapes that can withstand the heat. One of the producers from this area that we carry, O’SHAUGHNESSY, makes a lusciously typical Howell Mountain Cabernet with brooding black fruits. Viognier is one of the white grapes that can also tolerate the climate. Chardonnay is grown as well but it is often more fleshy than those you’ll find in cooler areas such as Carneros.

The Chiles Valley is southeast of Howell Mountain. Even though it has “valley” in its name, many of the vineyards are on the hillside, but since its highest point is 1200 feet, it gets fog at night. You’ll find a lot of the same grapes grown but the wines often have more acidity because of the cool evenings. BROWN ESTATE is one of the most famous wineries in the Chiles Valley, in large part due to its voluptuous yet balanced Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

Scribe, one of the
great Atlas Peak Wines

Atlas Peak is the other major AVA on the Vaca Range. Between the altitude, which peaks at 2600 and the cooling marine influences, the temperatures are noticeably different from that of Howell Mountain. SCRIBE Winery, which is actually based in Sonoma, sources grapes for its Cabernet Sauvignon from here as the wines have body but also plenty of acidity, a style that they prefer.

The Wild Horse Valley is the smallest and one of the coolest AVA’s in Napa. It has become well known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, rivaling Carneros as the best appellation within the region for these grapes. We will see more wines made from these grapes in the future as its reputation is taking off.

Coombsville, located in between Los Carneros and Atlas Peak, is also a “hot” region. In actuality, it is cooler than other parts of Napa but unlike its immediate neighbors, has staked its reputation on Cabernet Sauvignon, often getting as much structure from its acidity as from tannin. INHERIT THE SHEEP, a winemaking venture started by two Mondavi alumnae (Clay & Tersila Gregory), is one of a number of boutique wineries making waves in this area, and has created a real following among our clients. Not to forget the amazing Merlot produced by COHO from the Michael Black Vineyard.

To leave you in suspense, next week I’ll pick up with the valley floor and move into the AVA’s on Mayacamas Mountain Range.

Honoring Our Veterans

Today, we salute the heroes
who have fought for the integrity of this country and the freedoms we enjoy.

Our hearts and minds are filled with thanks and respect.

We are forever grateful for their sacrifice of life, limb, and time
for the greater good so that we might have a better life
and a place to call home.

Let us raise a toast to our veterans.
Happy Veteran’s Day!