“Gorgeously & Voluptuous” Philippe Melka Cab blend – 94 Points

Fahri & Constance Diner created Skipstone after successful careers as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The vineyard is sits like an amphitheater carved into a horseshoe-shaped mountain hidden high above Alexander Valley. With their European roots Fahri & Constance strive to create the best wines to rival the quality and artistry of California’s most highly regarded wine estates.  Add Philippe Melka, winemaker extra-ordinaire and you see where this is going….

Skipstone 2014 “Faultline” Cab Blend “Estate”
Retail 135.00 – GGWC 124.99
Use code FAULTLINE during checkout

“The 2014 Faultline has the classic texture and flavor of Cabernet Franc dominating the wine. Robust black and blue fruit are matched with a hint of tobacco, coffee, dark chocolate and a whiff  of savory notes. The fruit is rich and juicy with an underlying structure that shows the real power and potential of the wine. The tannins are fine and well integrated with a silky mouthfeel and bright acidity.  The 2014 Faultline is an all-estate blend of 59% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec”

Parker 94 Points: “This wine has a gorgeously voluptuous texture and is really a sleeper selection. Aged in 60% new French oak prior to being bottled unfiltered, the wine has loads of berry fruit, a touch of tobacco leaf, licorice, Asian soy, and some blueberry, black raspberry and dark cherry fruit. Layered and impressively constituted, this luscious wine should drink beautifully for another 20+ years.”

Check out his equally amazing and limited production: SKIPSTONE 2014 VIOGNIER “ESTATE”

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Another 97 Point…..

Matthias Pippig is not your everyday mainstream winemaker. He’s an “artist” in the true sense of the worth.  A creator, a dreamer, a visionary, a poet, a chef, a scientist.  Mix this all together and you have Sanguis.  Matthias moved here from Germany some 30 years ago with plans to make it big in the Rock & Roll scene.  Life took a different turn, as he had to make a living and  he eventually stumbled onto the L.A. food scene.  He worked as a waiter, and in time met Manfred Krankl, of La Brea Bakery fame, which whom he’d partner and work for several years.  Krankl, created the infamous Sine Qua Non label and that inspired Matthias to go a similar route and the rest is history.  Sanguis is not a quaffing wine, but complex and sophisticated.

Sanguis 2014 Syrah “Bossman”
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99
Use code BOSSMAN during checkout

Winemaker Notes: “An eccentric gentleman, like the men of early car racing – Confidently humble, determined and patient, smart, beautiful (but not in the Hollywood or GQ sort of way), generous…probably in his mid-fifties but not the sort of 50’s that we’d find in a Viagra commercial and also not the Dos Equisman (though I like him very much).  As a wine, this just about has it all – a dark brooding core enrobed by bright and vibrant energy and an incredibly generous    manner.  It is as pure and lively an expression of Syrah as we’ve been able to coax from nature and put in a bottle – beautiful now and promising a long interesting life ahead.”

I’d say the 2014 is any bit as good as the 2013 vintage, so I’d be surprised not to see a similar review!

Robert Parker (2013) 97 Points: “The greatest wine made by this estate, the 2013 Syrah Bossman is a flat-out sensational blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier, from Bien Nacido and Watch Hills vineyards, that saw a quarter whole clusters and 23 months in new French oak. Its inky opaque color is followed by killer notes of smoked meats, pepper, olives and assorted dark fruits. This gives way to a full-bodied, perfectly balanced red that has a great mid-palate, seamless integration of its oak, tannin and alcohol, and a complex, layered personality that keeps you coming back to the glass. Hats off to winemaker Matthias Pippig for this beauty!”

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95 Point “Classy” Chardonnay & 95 Points “Expansive” Pinot Gem

Last week I spent the  morning tasting with Andy Peay, the owner of Peay Vineyards and his line-up was stunning! What really stood out were the 2015 “Estate” Chardonnay and 2015 Pomarium Pinot Noir. Later in the day I tasted with my wine group (12 wine professionals) and we each bring our “favorite” wine – that week was Pinot Noir week, so I opted to bring a bottle of Peay. I really impressed and surprised many of my friends. Some big names, Martinelli (Bondi 97 Points), Rochioli, Pisoni, Aubert , William Selyem and Kosta Browne were in the line-up. My little guy came out ahead of the pack. (FYI, the wine maker is Vanessa Wong who crafted many great Peter Michael wines until she met Andy Peay’s brother Nick and became Vanessa Peay, the winemaker at Peay!). My group also tasted the Chardonnay and was equally impressed!

Peay 2015 “Estate” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 54.99 or 49.99 on 12 bottles (solid)
Use code PEAY during checkout

OK to mix with Peay Pinot Noir

Galloni 95 Points: “The 2015 Chardonnay Estate is laced with the essence of slate, stone fruit, mint and white pepper. Bright, sculpted and nuanced, the 2015 screams with class. The 2015 deftly manages to be rich and intense, but not at all heavy. A hint of reduction adds nuance without being overpowering.”

Peay 2015 “Pomarium” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Retail 67.00 – GGWC 63.99
Use code PEAY during checkout

OK to mix with Peay Chardonnay

Galloni 95 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Estate Pomarium brings together all the elements of the house style. The creaminess of Ama meets the more tannic profile of the Scallop Shelf in a vivid, nuanced Pinot Noir that hits all the right notes. Dark cherry, plum, rose petal, lavender, licorice, spice and new leather infuse the creamy, expansive finish. In 2015, the Pomarium is a winner.”

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Killer Napa Petite Syrah

Over a century of grape growing and wine production hints at the amazing history that has transpired on our ranch. From its days as part of Rancho Caymus in the early 1800s, through the wine production period of the late nineteenth century, and then as source of high quality Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, through the twentieth century, The Terraces has been at the heart of the history of Napa Valley.

The Terraces 2014 Petite Sirah, Estate, Napa Valley 
Retail 45.00 – GGWC 42.99
Use code TERRACES during checkout

This is a HUGE wine! Deep purple. Rich, ripe aromas of blackberry, cassis, licorice, and black pepper. Palate is mouth-coating with continued flavors of ripe blackberry, blueberry, black currant with lingering sweet spices and leathery tannins. Big finish. Drink now to 10-15 years.

Be sure to check out the Terraces 2013 Zinfandel as well!

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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 (Scarecrow) and has taken a few pages out of her “note book” and it shows with the new wines.

Rocca 2014 “Vespera” Red Blend “Estate” Napa Valley 
Retail 52.00 – GGWC 49.99
Use code VESPERA upon checkout

It will come as no surprise but the Vespera 2014 Proprietary Red Blend is  a real crowd-pleaser. The wine is forward, easily accessible, immediately delicious and enjoyable young.  As soon as it’s poured, the wine comes across as warm, rich and inviting. There are deep layers of dark ripe blackberry, cassis, and black cherry aromas here, comfortably interwoven with subtle hints of oak spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate.  On the palate this is a gorgeously soft, smooth blend that lushly coats the entire palate without a hint of heaviness or astringency.  It ends with a long, complex but silky tannin finish.  This is a wine that’s ready for full enjoyment right out of the gate.

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A decade in retrospect, the 2007 Vintage from Frank’s Cellar

On Saturday, March 11, we tasted 10 wines from the 2007 vintage and shared them with a crowd of about about 35-40 guest in our tasting room.

The 2007 vintage lineup included the following:

  • Ramey “Hudson vineyard” Chardonnay, Carneros
  • Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
  • Lioco “Carneros” Pinot Noir
  • Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard
  • Page Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
  • Trespass “Rendezvous ” Cabernet blend, St. Helena, Napa
  • Ramian “Chapter 7” Cabernet Blend, Mt Veeder Napa
  • Kamen “Estate” Cabernet, Sonoma
  • Coho “SummitVine” Diamond Mt, Napa
  • Malk “Estate” Stag’s Leap, Napa

All the wines showed well and everyone had different favorites. The vintage didn’t fail nor show lackluster after a decade in my temperature-controlled wine cellar.

The “winners” if we were to crown them, were the following:

Coho & Kamen Cabernet: both of these showed gusto, great body and flavor with ample “mountain” tannins.  I’d say both wines could be drunk till 2020-22.

Trespass Rendezvous: this estate grown Cabernet blend (FYI next door to Spottswoode), benefited from a good 90 minute decanting before we served it, or it might have been a bit too tannic if we didn’t. The blackstone fruit was still as gorgeous as upon its release a good 8 years ago!

Paul Lato Pinot Noir:  the Fiddlestix is always an early ripening vineyard source.  This wine reminded me of a great Burgundy.  Not as bold as Paul’s other Pinots, but a Well-crafted gem at the hands of one of best winemakers in California.

Ramey Chardonnay: the Hudson Ranch would be a Premiere Cru if it was in Burgundy, and that wine was probably the crown jewel of the tasting, surprising everyone. No one believed a California Chardonnay could age this nicely!

Not to take away from the other wines, as Hansel Cahill Lane still had good fruit, with a slight hint of oxidation.

The Lioco might have been a little tired, but was still liked by everyone.

The Page, Malk, and Ramian still have a lifespan of about 3-5 years left; Ramian even a little longer, for those who still have some of these wines in their cellar. The Malk showed some leathery, tobacco flavors alongside its nice dark berry fruit.  The Page was very silky,  courtesy of the large dose of Merlot in this blend. The Ramian was still “in-your-face” bold, intense mountain grown fruit that wowed everyone and was agreed upon that it would drink well for another 5-8 years.

The next vintage perspective will have to wait a few years – 2009 and 2010 vintage will be on the docket. In the mean time, be sure to take a look at the current vintages from each of these winners and I am certain that you will not be disappointed!

Happy Sipping!

Your Patron Saint of (soft) Tannins.
St. Frank



The Martinelli family has been growing grapes in the Russian River Valley since the 1880’s. At the ages of 19 and 16, Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini eloped from their small village in the Tuscany region of Italy, making their way to California looking for land to farm and start a winery.

In 1918 Giuseppe died, leaving Luisa with four children and the farm to care for. Their youngest son, Leno was twelve years old at the time and had wanted no other career in life than to be a farmer. Leno’s two older brothers wanted nothing to do with the impossibly steep hillside, so after completing the eighth grade, Leno finished school and took on the sole responsibility of farming the Zinfandel vineyard. His family told him that only a jackass would farm a hill that steep. Hence, he and his vineyard earned the name Jackass Hill.

In 1973 Lee Sr. took over management of his Uncle Tony Bondi’s estate, which was comprised mainly of apple orchards, and began planting vineyards in the rich soil of the Russian River Valley. Soon considered a premium grape grower, Lee’s fruit was in great demand from many wineries. Lee and his wife, Carolyn, realized the exceptional potential to create superb wines from these grapes, and decided to start their own winery, and the rest as they say…. is history.

Martinelli 2015 “Bondi” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 71.99
Use code MARTINELLI during checkout

Galloni 97 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Bondi Home Ranch, from Martinelli’s coolest Pinot site, is another stunner. Silky, nuanced and wonderfully expressive on the palate, the 2015 possesses remarkable intensity but in a decidedly mid-weight style by Martinelli standards. Dense and compact in its center, the 2015 needs at least a few years to open up. Even today, though, it is dazzling. Early to bloom and late to ripen, Bondi Home Ranch enjoys an especially long growing season.”

Make sure to check out the not so shabbily rated 

Martinelli 2015 Zio Tony Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley  
Retail 75.00 – GGWC 71.99
Use code MARTINELLI during checkout

Galloni 96 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Zio Tony Ranch is another fabulous wine from Martinelli. Dark, round and inviting, the 2015 possesses striking depth and intensity. Succulent black cherry, plum, spice, leather and rose petal shape this utterly compelling Pinot. Sweet floral notes add attractive aromatic lift and refinement.”

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Patricia Green Cellars is located in the Ribbon Ridge Appellation of the Willamette Valley on a 52 acre estate purchased in 2000 by Patty Green and Jim Anderson. The winery, and thus the two friends and business partners, are noted for producing a tremendously broad selection of Pinot Noirs from several vineyards representing some of the better sites in the Willamette Valley with a particular emphasis over the years on Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills and the Chehalem Mountains appellations. Ribbon Ridge is a 3.5-mile long by 1.75-mile wide ridge that extends from the Chehalem Mountains. The ridge rises 683 feet from the Chehalem Valley floor, giving it an island-like appearance.

Patricia Green 2014 Pinot Noir “Old Vine” Estate 
Retail 45.00 – GGWC 41.99
Use code PG14PN during checkout

Winemaker Notes: ”The difference between the older and younger blocks here is always pretty amazing to people. As the vines continue to age these older vines continue to sink deep root systems into the soft sandstone sub-soil. Our water is spring fed and very minerally in nature. That is what these older vines have tapped into and that is what they pull up and put into the fruit. Savory and bringing in both black and red fruit spectrums so this has a wide range in the mid-palate. Ultimately this wine is defined by the mineral laden “ribbon” that intertwines the fruit and carries the flavors onto the sinewy tannin structure underlying the wine. This is refined and elegant while still being surprisingly broad shouldered.”

Galloni 94 Points: “Dark red. Lively, sharply focused aromas of fresh raspberry, candied flowers and spicecake, backed by a zesty mineral nuance. Juicy, incisive strawberry, bitter cherry and peppery spice flavors deepen and gain sweetness with air while maintaining urgency. At once concentrated and nervy, finishing with excellent focus and suave, late-arriving tannins.”

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REALLY IT STILL EXISTS – GREAT QUALITY, UNDER $45 Napa Cabernet by A 99+ Winemaker



The legend of the Old Poodle Dog… Back in the Gold Rush days of San Francisco the most popular French restaurant was named Le Poulet D’Or (which actually mean the Golden Chicken). Many of the miners found the unfamiliar language of the restaurant’s name difficult to pronounce so it was mangled into (Old) Poodle Dog, and soon the restaurant had a new name.

The Old Poodle Dog became one of the most fashionable eateries in San Francisco and resided in several different locations over the years. Sadly when the blight of Prohibition appeared the proprietor closed the doors exclaiming “Great cuisine cannot be served without wine.” I couldn’t agree more.

Winemaker Phil Titus from Chappellet greatness for the 2 decades, has been at the winemaking helm at Coho since 2012 and it really shows.

Coho 2014 “Old Poodle Dog” Cabernet, Napa 
Retail 48.00 – GGWC 44.99
FREE SHIPPINNG on 6 or more
use code OPD during checkout

Since it is a Coho wine, and it is the much anticipated 2014 vintage, I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about this wine. This blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot was sourced from the same vineyards Coho works with for its designated varietal program. This is a fun, but very serious wine that comes with an economical friendly price tag. On the nose one is greeted by intense black stone fruit and chocolate notes. On the palate this youngster shows great finesse and overflows with bright black currant, mocha and a touch of toasty vanilla notes. Full in body this youngster will please both wallet and palate.

Also check out these other great Coho wines (assort for free shipping)


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Philippe Melka’s most amazing white ever

“Five rows of Viognier span the top of the north ridge of our amphitheater shaped vineyard. Situated on steep mountain terraces, the thin rocky soils force the vines to struggle which in turn brings out intensity and complexity in the fruit. Steady sun exposure during the day followed by afternoon shade blesses us with the ability to achieve both ripeness and long hang time. This in turn adds depth and complexity to the fruit.”

Skipstone 2014 Viognier “Estate” 
Retail 60.00 – GGWC 57.99
Use code SKIP during checkout

The 2014 Skipstone Viognier exhibits a delicate light citrine color that reflects just like the faceted jewel. The nose is very generous revealing enticing aromatics of white peach, honeysuckle and jasmine with crushed rock notes that provide remembrances of youth spent on a hot summer day by the river. On the palate this wine is seamless, elegant and full bodied. The structure is balanced and complete with well integrated acidity and a long, satisfying finish.”

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