LAST CALL for the Amazing 2015 Paul Lato Wines!

Friends, the long wait is finally over.  The Paul Lato wines have reached our shores (read warehouse).  The 2015 might be the sleeper vintage and well-worth the wait!  The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are shipping NOW, the Syrah and Grenache in August!

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 (ABC & 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) Parker was blown away and gave Paul Lato a rave review. From then on, Paul’s new career was born.

I met Paul in 2002 and have been a big fan since day one, and could say that we have become good friends along the way.  Paul is even making wine under my own “MilAnge” label!

FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more Paul Lato Wines (mix & match OK) use code PAULLATO during checkout

Paul Lato 2015 Chardonnay “Belle de Jour”
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99

This bottling 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 ‘12 (95 Pt WA), ‘13 (96 Pt WA) & ‘14 (95 Pt WA) bottlings, maybe a touch more focused and more elegant! A real “skilled” winemaker gem! Due to the success with the previous vintages I have a lot of demand for this bottling and it will be sold out well before it arrives at my store!

Paul Lato Notes: “Duvarita is a biodynamic-in-the-making vineyard, with a purity, brightness, and provincial beauty to the fruit. Fresh aromas of yellow apple and lime rind arise on the clean and crisp nose, while fully-rounded tones of butterscotch and meyer lemon envelop the palate in juicy bliss. The finish is long and mouth-watering with toasted hazelnut and honeysuckle notes lingering.”

Robert Parker 2014 Review 96 Points: “Leading 2014 Chardonnay Belle de Jour comes from a cool site west of the Sta. Rita Hills and is from the Calera and Mt Eden clones. It’s the first wine from Paul from this site and there’s a scant six barrels to go around. Spending 14 months in 50% new French oak, it has a terrific bouquet of smoke, charcoal, stone and apple fruits, brioche and integrated oak. This gives way to a rich, layered Chardonnay that has bright acidity, a layered, seamless texture and a great finish. In short, it’s another sensational Chardonnay from a great winemaker.”

Paul Lato 2015 Chardonnay “Souvenir” 
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99

This is a more than worthy follow-up to the 2012,13 & 14 bottlings which received 96-97 Point ratings from Robert Parker! 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.  This 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!

Paul Lato Notes: “23-year-old Wente clone vines contribute to the classic, precise nature of this naturally-pleasing Chardonnay. Golden straw-colored in the glass, notes of clover honey and roasted plantain notes emerge from the nose with great clarity. The mouthfeel is electric and buoyant, with wet limestone minerality and a stunning swell of lemon-like acidity that enlivens the palate.”

Robert Parker 2014 review 96 Points: “Made all from the Wente clone, the 2014 Chardonnay le Souvenir Sierra Madre Vineyard saw more new oak than most of the releases and spent 14 months in 70% new barrels. Paul has a two-acre parcel in this site, which is located in the Santa Maria Valley, and he first started working with fruit from this site in 2007. This 2014 is medium-bodied, ultra-fine and utterly seamless on the palate, with textbook notes of buttered apples, stone fruits, white flowers and hints of minerality. Every speck of new oak has been completely absorbed by this sensational Chardonnay, and it should drink gorgeously for 5-7 years. I don’t have any experience with aged examples of this cuvee, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it keep for longer either.”

Paul Lato 2015 Chardonnay “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard 
Retail 85.00 – GGWC 79.99 

This is the Fifth 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 2013 vintage, which received 97 Points from Parker!

Paul Lato notes: “The low-yields of Pisoni Vineyard contribute to this muscular and delineated wine, which several Master Sommelier’s have compared to the legendary Corton of Burgundy. The unique aromatic profile shows alpine flower along with sea water elements and a touch of sweet almond paste. The palate has a textured, tannin-like structure with subdued mineral tones that allow for white floral and tropical qualities to lift up beautifully.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 96 Points: “From one of the top sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the 2014 Chardonnay East Of Eden Pisoni Vineyard is a tour de force in Chardonnay that will stand up with the best California offers. More masculine, rich and textured, with tons of caramelized orchard fruits, orange blossom, minerality and brioche, it has a great mid-palate, excellent acidity and shows serious length on the finish. Aged 14 months in 50% new French oak, it should have a decade or more of longevity, although there’s no need to delay gratification too long.”

Paul Lato 2015 Pinot Noir “Seabiscuit”
Retail 90.00 – GGWC 84.99

This latest Zotovich “Seabiscuit” bottling is by far Paul’s best effort to date! I would say that it will rival his 97 Point rated 2013 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!

Paul Lato Notes: “Robust and explosive, this is an exquisite expression of a previously-neglected vineyard that is now becoming a thoroughbred with the proper attention. The nose is huge, bursting with redcurrant, blueberry, and iodine in rich array. The strength of the aromatics is matched on the palate as sturdy, age-worthy tannins reveal wave after wave of dried fruit and hard spice.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 95 Points: “Showing the more savory, dried earth and sandy loam-like characteristics that are the hallmark of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA is the 2014 Pinot Noir Seabiscuit Zotovich Vineyard (aged 15 months in 70% new French oak). It has lots of bright cherry, forest floor, spice and dried flowers to go with a supple, gorgeously polished style on the palate. It still has a kiss of new oak, so give it a year in bottle.”

Paul Lato 2015 Pinot Noir “Suerte” Solomon Hills 
Retail 92.00 – GGWC 86.99

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! This 2015 is any bit as good as the 96 point rated 2014 vintage!

Paul Lato Notes: “Solomon Hills is a Grand-Cru-in-the-making site of great character, arguably the most unique in the Santa Maria Valley. The aromatics show gunpowder, black cherry, and strawberry jam notes of deep intensity and generosity. The palate is pure velvet, seamlessly balancing rich, tarry earth tones that cling to the palate with a bright acid lift towards the finish. Striking in both beauty and intelligence.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 96 Points: “From a top site in the Santa Maria Valley that’s just to the southwest of Bien Nacido, the 2014 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard Suerte comes mostly from clone 115, but has 25% each from 667 and 777. Aged 15 months in 75% new French oak, it’s another lighter colored beauty that offers upfront, fresh and fruit-driven notes of strawberries, framboise, violets and spring flowers. Elegant, layered, pure and with good acidity and fine tannin, it’s already hard to resist, yet should evolve nicely on its balance.”

Paul Lato 2015  Pinot Noir “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard
Retail 105.00 – GGWC 99.99

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!

Paul Lato Notes: “Deep red ruby in the glass, this voluptuous Pinot Noir has a dizzying aromatic profile bursting with lavender, warm asphalt, and salt-cured meats. The palate has great depth in fruit and earth qualities reflective of the one-of-a-kind Pisoni Vineyard. Planted over 30 years ago with what are rumored to be cuttings from one of the finest Grand Cru’s of Burgundy, this singular site continues to amaze in the balance, concentration, and ageability of fruit it delivers.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 96 Points: “Coming from a block that was recently replanted (this cuvee won’t be made after 2015), the 2014 Pinot Noir Lancelot Pisoni Vineyard is always one of the larger framed, mineral-laced wines from Paul. Offering lots of crushed rock and mineral nuances, with a core of red currants, raspberry, smoked earth and charcoal, it leans towards the blacker fruits, is medium to full-bodied, gorgeously textured and has a finish that won’t quit. Like all of Paul’s wines, it’s impeccably balanced. Give it a year and drink bottles through 2026.”

Paul Lato 2015 Pinot Noir “Contender” Drumm Canyon 
Retail 94.00 – GGWC 89.99

This might be the best Contender bottling to date!  This rendition of the Drumm Canyon Vineyard “Contender” 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!

Paul Lato Notes: “A highly-perfumed nose of lavender and sweet tobacco alongside lush wild berry notes is beautifully indicative of the Drum Canyon site. The palate is an exotic mélange of hard spice, leather, and bramble fruit, with a surprising and welcome acidity that lends a levity to the muscularity at its core. Like Marlon Brando on the waterfront, it shows that intensity and gracefulness can be a part of the same package.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 95 Points: “Eclipsing the seriously good 2013, the 2014 Pinot Noir The Contender Drum Canyon Vineyard comes from Swan and Calera clones and spent 15 months in 75% new French oak. More structured and tannic (Paul says it’s the Gevrey of the lineup), with a darker edge to its black raspberry, blackberry, underbrush, red plum and spice aromas and flavors, this beauty hits the palate with a big mouth full of fruit, a layered textured and a great finish. Give it a year or two and enjoy through 2026.”

Paul Lato 2015 Pinot Noir “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Barbara
Retail 92.00 – GGWC 84.99

This might be one of Paul’s best renditions of this great vineyard.  Intensely aromatic, lush fruit, medium to full in body, but extremely well-balanced.  Bright red stone fruit on the mid-palate with a hint of spice leading into a long silky finish.

Paul Lato Notes: “Elegant, fruity and pleasing. Refreshing acidity with fresh strawberry fruit and violet aromas. There is serious weight to this powerful wine, yet it remains distinctly balanced with a ripe red fruit component that is grounded”

Robert Parker: “The Paul Lato Pinot Noir Atticus John Sebastiano Vineyard is stunning. Loaded with fruit and a big, voluptuous, textured effort, it has tons of black raspberry, black cherry, violets, leather and baking spices aromas and flavors. These come together beautifully on the palate and it has sensational depth and richness through the mid-palate while always staying lively, elegant and seamless. It’s fruit loaded and exuberant for sure, but also as classy and silky as they come. It’s already hard to resist, but I suspect it will evolve easily for a decade.”

Paul Lato 2015 Pinot Noir “Duende” Gold Coast 
Retail 89.00 – GGWC 84.99

This is Burgundy made in California!  The Gold Coast Vineyard is almost 30 years old and is not planted on rootstock!  Intensely perfumy aromatics jump out of the glass. Medium to full in body, this wine offers gobs of red stone fruit, a touch a underbrush and spice in its medium to full-bodied shell.  The wine lingers for a longtime into a gorgeous, lengthy finish.

Paul Lato Notes: “The most individualized vineyard in our portfolio. Over 30 year old vines produce this incredibly perfumed, lightly spiced and silky pinot noir. This wine has Burgundian-like complexity. A favorite of many Master Sommelier’s for its truly expressive qualities”

Robert Parker 2014 vintage 95 Points: “The 2014 Pinot Noir Goldcoast Vineyard Duende is from the Santa Maria Valley and comes from the Martini clone, which was selected by UC Davis from Martini’s Carneros vineyard. It’s the lightest colored in the lineup and it shines for its elegance, nuances and finesse more so than overt power and richness. Notes of strawberries, light spice, sappy flowers and hints of charcoal all flow to a medium-bodied, pretty, silky Pinot Noir that has fine tannin, no hard edges and a great finish. Aged 14 months in 25% new French oak, it should evolve nicely for a decade.”

Paul Lato 2015 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, to the great 2014, 2012, 2008 and 2007 vintages (97 Point rating).  I’d be surprised that this wine will not see very high 90 scores again!

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.”

Robert Parker 2014 – 97 Points: “More sweetly fruited and perfumed than the Bien Nacido Syrah, the 2014 Syrah Cinematique Larner Vineyard is a gorgeously complex Syrah that offers tons of sweet black cherries, framboise, incense and olive aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, utterly seamless, impeccably balanced and insanely pure, this sensational Syrah needs a decant if drinking anytime soon, and will continue to drink brilliantly for another decade.”

Paul Lato 2015 Syrah “IL Padrino” Bien Nacido 
Retail 96.00 – GGWC 93.99

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 2014 – 97 Points: “Another sensational vintage for this cuvee, the 2014 Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard is slightly deeper colored than the Larner Vineyard and has a more earthy, gamey, savory characteristics in its black currants, damp earth, olive tapenade and sappy flower aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, rich, beautifully concentrated and layered, with good acidity and fine tannin, it needs short term cellaring to come together (the Larner is much more upfront) and will drink beautifully through 2026.”

Paul Lato 2015 Grenache Bien Nacido
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 74.99

Paul Lato’s notes: “This is one of the most historic vineyards in Santa Maria Valley tracing its grape-growing history back to the days of the Spanish land grants. Vineyard Manager Chris Hammell and his dedicated crew continue to take this vineyard to even greater heights. Many of this region’s most acclaimed winemakers have enjoyed great success working with this internationally renowned site.”

Robert Parker 2013 – 95 Points: “A bigger, richer and more concentrated effort than the Larner Grenache, the 2013 Grenache Bien Nacido Vineyard offers lots of cassis and black raspberry fruit to go with underlying notes of wet gravel, shrimp broth, peppery herbs, licorice and pepper. Medium to full-bodied, seamless, elegant and multi-dimensional on the palate, with a weightless mouthfeel, it’s acidity is nicely integrated and it never puts a foot wrong. Given its balance and overall purity, it’s a killer drink today, but it will evolve beautifully.”

Also check out the 2015 MilAnge wines made by Paul Lato:

MilAnge 2015 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
MilAnge 2014 Syrah, Santa Barbara
MilAnge 2016 Rose of Pinot Noir, Central Coast

Click here or on the links above to order!

My Birthday Gift to YOU!

Dear Friends,

I don’t need any presents. Instead I want to give you one. TODAY on my birthday, I want to give you 10% OFF ALL wines in my store, and yes FREE SHIPPING ($500 or more) as well.

Just enter the code BIRTHDAY at checkout!

A Happy Birthday Wish from Me to You!

Most gratefully yours,
Frank Melis

How Much Sugar Is in a Glass of Wine?

How Much Sugar Is in a Glass of Wine?

Contributed By SOPHIE EGAN in the New York Times

Q. Some wineries add sugar to dry red wines after fermentation so that they taste “smoother” to the American palate. How can I find out how much sugar is in what I am drinking?

A. To find out how much sugar might have been added to a given wine, your best bet may be to contact the producer directly.

Winemakers employ a range of techniques to achieve desired properties and flavor profiles. The addition of sulfites, used as a preservative, must be listed on the label in order to notify individuals who might be allergic, yet more than 60 different additives can legally be used without being disclosed. With regard to sugar, regulations vary by state. In California, for instance, added sugar is not allowed at any point in the winemaking process. There, winemakers may rely on unfermented grape juice to tweak the sweetness.

“Wine is by nature somewhat acidic, and adjustments can help to balance the elements of sweet and sour,” Nancy Light, vice president of communications for Wine Institute, the main advocacy association for the California wine industry, said in an email. “Winemakers are permitted by government regulations to make sweetness adjustments after fermentation to achieve desired wine styles.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a five­ounce glass of red table wine typically contains about 0.9 grams of total sugar, while a glass of chardonnay contains about 1.4 grams. A sweet dessert wine, typically served in a smaller two­ to three­ounce glass, contains as much as 7 grams of sugar. Depending on where the wine was made, the total may include added sugar or sugar from unfermented grape juice, along with the sugar that occurs naturally in the grapes.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, which is about 12 teaspoons, or 50 grams. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake even further: no more than six teaspoons (about 25 grams, or 100 calories) per day for women, and no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams, 150 calories) per day for men.

Along with adding sugar for the purpose of sweetening wine, some producers add sugar before or during fermentation in order to achieve a certain alcohol level. This process is called chaptalization, and it is more common in cooler wine regions such as Oregon, where grapes ripen more slowly. Alcoholic fermentation occurs when yeast metabolizes a source of sugar (glucose, sucrose or fructose), turning it into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. In beer, the sugar comes from the starch in malted cereal grain, typically barley. In wine, it comes from grape juice. Grapes that are riper have higher sugar levels, but if available grapes are not as ripe, a winemaker may add sugar to aid in fermentation and achieve the desired amount of alcohol.

According to Tom Hogue, a spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, wine producers may provide nutritional details about their products on a voluntary basis, so long as they adhere to regulations from the bureau. So, while winemakers are not required to disclose nutritional information on the label, for those who choose to do so — whether for sugar or other ingredients — guidelines apply.

Sophie Egan (@SophieEganM) is the author of “Devoured“

For more info on sweet or dry wines and recommendations on the best wines to suit your palate, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 415-337-4083 or email!

Spottswoode Winemaker’s MUST HAVE White

Hourglass was created by Ned Smith in 1976, who loved making Zinfandel from this property.  In 1992 his son Jeff Smith took over the land and business and enlisted Robert Foley as his winemaker.  They started Hourglass 2.0. by making Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc from this amazing property.  Jeff since purchased what is now the Blueline Vineyard as well.  Since the estate only produces a very small amount of SB some longterm contracts were signed as well.   As of a couple of years, Tony Biagi (formerly with Spottswoode) has taken over the reigns at the winery.

Hourglass 2016 “Estate” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Retail 46.00 – GGWC 43.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code HOUR during checkout

The 2016 Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of three contrasting vineyards and clones. The Larkmead Lane vineyard is on the same mineral rich alluvial gravel beds just down the street from our Blueline Estate. As such, this site elicits a vibrancy and stony minerality akin to the minerality expressed in our reds from Blueline. Crisp, tangy Granny Smith apple with overtones of tropical fruits are the hallmarks of the vineyard. By contrast the 57-year-old head trained vines of the Varozza vineyard in St. Helena yield intensely rich, pure fruit with a noticeable white peach character. In 2016 Hourglass added Semillon from the famed Gamble ranch in Yountville for more midpalate texture to balance the vibrancy of the crisp Larkmead fruit. Between these vineyards and three fermentation techniques (stainless steel, seasoned oak and new oak), we make up to 7 distinctly different wines, then blend them to create a complex and layered Sauvignon Blanc that is both vibrant and rich at the same time.

The addition of Semillon in 2016 adds an extra layer of dimension and complexity. Primary aromas of lemon and lime zest, orange blossom and Granny Smith apples are followed on the palate with flavors of limeade, cut hay, white peach, pineapple and vanilla bean. A noticeable wet stone minerality from the Larkmead fruit provides a wonderful counter balance and vibrant tension to the pure fruit expressions from the Varozza and Gamble vineyards.

Click here or on the links above to order!

A Real Napa Valley Gemstone by Thomas Rivers Brown

The Gemstone Vineyard 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 100% estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon (93%) and Petit Verdot (7%), sourced from several micro-blocks and distinctive clones from Gemstone’s16-acre vineyard. This big, bold, intense and savory wine reveals notes of lush black currants, juicy black stone fruits, bitter-sweet chocolate and a touch of mocha and spice.  This youngster exhibits gripping tannins with great depth and structure.  The wine is powerful on the mid-palate with lots of structure and character.  It should drink well for 20+ years.  When drinking, I suggest a good (double) decanting about 90 minutes prior to consumption.  Only 600 cases produced!

Gemstone 2013 Cabernet “Yountville” Napa Valley
Retail 155.00 – GGWC 149.99
Use code GEM during checkout

Robert Parker 96 Points: “A barrel sample of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot) reveals textbook notes of blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, licorice and fruitcake, a stunningly rich, long finish and a beautiful, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel. It should drink well for 15+ years.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

LAST CALL for 95 Point Syrah Gem … 12.5% Alc. for those who want “lower” alcohol wines

Many of Wind Gaps’ vineyards are planted along or are directly influenced by one wind gap or another.  These geological breaks in the coastal hills funnel wind inland and strongly influence the growing and ripening of the grapes.  It seems only fitting that their name should celebrate the forces of nature that are shaping their wines.

Wine lovers will know the name Pax Mahle from his first winery – PAX – which garnered high scores and much notoriety.  Though he has always been influenced by French styles of winemaking, it was the bold, powerful Syrahs that first brought praise and attention to Pax in his new chapter as Sommelier-turned-Winemaker.

Wind Gap 2014 Syrah “Armagh” 
Retail 55.00 – GGWC 49.99
Use code WINDGAP during checkout

Saturated with savory elements including iron, anise, plum and brown spice on the deep dark aromas of this dense red wine.  This is definitely the scary side of Syrah…meat jus, seared meat, iron. Blackberries and spicy stem notes create a classically structured Syrah that is built to improve in your cellar for many years to come.”

Anthony Galloni 95 Points: “The 2014 Syrah Armagh Vineyard is the richest and deepest of these Syrahs from Wind Gap. Ferrous notes open up first, followed by a host of dense, meaty, peppery notes that add character. There is wild, feral quality to the Armagh that I find especially appealing. Dense and powerful, but in the classic Wind Gap style, the 2014 Armagh is fabulous today.”

Winemaker Notes: “The Armagh Vineyard saw one of its most successful seasons in a few years, more reminiscent of the 2010 or 2008 versions of this wine, this 2014 is rich, textured and loaded with ripe, succulent fruit, spice and savory Syrah elements. Probably one of the most powerful Syrahs we have labeled under the Wind Gap label and the polar opposite of the 2014 Majik Syrah, this one needs a big slab of meat or a couple of years in your cellar.

Click here or on the links above to order!

“(Low Alcohol) Pinot of the month

The San Andreas Fault Estate Pinot Noir is the flagship wine from Hirsch, and the wine that represents the summation of our complex vineyard.  It is named for the fault-line which marks the meeting of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates, snaking its way up the California coast and passing less than a mile from Hirsch. The proximity to the fault is responsible for the geologic and topographical complexity of our soils. This vintage allows you the opportunity to experience how our site expressed itself in 2014.

Hirsch 2014 Pinot Noir “San Andreas” Estate, Sonoma Coast
Retail 70.00 – GGWC 66.99
Use code HIRSCH during checkout

OK to mix & match with Hirsch Chardonnay

The Hirsch 2014 Pinot offers up a gorgeous ruby color and bright aromas of black and blue  stone fruit permeated with a touch of figs, minerals, and flowery perfumy notes.  The wine is medium to full in body, yet extremely elegant and mouth coating with pure Pinot Noir flavors, great vibrancy and a touch of “Hirsch’ Sonoma Coast” acidity. The wine lingers for a good 20 seconds on the finish.   Alcohol 12.7%

Galloni, 95 Points: “The 2014 Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault draws on fruit across the entire ranch. Silky and aromatic, with understated depth, the 2014 will give readers a good idea of the personality of both the vintage and this site. Bright red stone fruit and delicate yet incisive tannins give the wine its shape and overall feel. This is a relatively easygoing style for Hirsch.”

Click here or on the links above to order!

Think PINK! It’s good for the body!

Rose WineMost people assume Rosé (or Pink wine) is sweet, white-zinfandel, cheap, ersatz wine. 

When I first got into the wine industry a few decades ago, rosé was anything but cool. White Zinfandel from California made the public think that all rosé was sweet, and unfortunately, imports such as Royal Lancers from Portugal and wines such as Sutter Home White Zin confirmed this notion.  Today, however, rosé is the second fastest growing segment of the wine market – the United States is the second largest rosé consuming country in the world, following France of course! It accounts for nearly 10% of all wine made worldwide. You’ll find rosé at high-end restaurants and … at Golden Gate Wine Cellars. In fact, this coming Saturday, we will be sampling a few surprisingly delicious Rosé wines in our tasting room. If you are going to be in the bay area on the 24th, be sure to join us!

Today, many well-known and lesser known wineries are producing high-quality “Pink” wine!

Here are a few suggestions:

You can mix and match for FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more. Just enter the code PINK at checkout.

Click here or on the links above to order!

15 Real Facts about Wine & Health

15 Real Facts about Wine & Health

Though both are now wine writers, Dr. Michael Apstein and Dr. Ian D’Agata met while working in a Boston hospital as gastroenterologists. (That’s the kind of doctor who puts a camera up your butthole.) Earlier this month, they held a seminar in Canada on wine and health that was candid and wide-ranging.
Some of what was said is already well-known: wine has some heart-protecting benefits, but drinking too much is bad for you. Other points were less obvious, so I’ll list them in bullet points below.

I’m glad to write this for Palate Press, because if I tried to publish it in a newspaper I would have to waste everyone’s time with long, boring disclaimers. Instead, here’s just one: I’m not a doctor. (But they are.)

Clean Livering

  • Perhaps the most interesting observation: Taking a week or a month off from drinking wine is not particularly beneficial.”This idea of doing a cleanse or having a dry January is utter nonsense,” Apstein asserts. “Those that think they need a dry January might be drinking too much the rest of the year.”

    The liver creates enzymes to metabolize alcohol and “has the capacity to create more enzymes,” he clarifies. “Consistent moderate drinking is better. That’s why that first glass hits like a ton of bricks after a cold, or a few days of not drinking. The workers in the liver, the little guys who make the enzymes, they have taken the day off. They’ve thought, ‘Why should we keep making more enzymes?’”

  • Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) should never be taken while drinking wine. “People who drink have a higher risk of getting liver disease from Tylenol,” Apstein reports.

Hard to Stomach

  • Aspirin is also not an ideal painkiller for drinkers. “Like wine, aspirin in the right quantities is beneficial,” continues Apstein. “In the wrong quantities, it put my kids through college, because it burns the stomach lining.” (His daughter is a writer for Sports Illustrated, so sports fans can thank aspirin.)
  • Sparkling wine makes people drunk faster than still wine because, according to D’Agata, “carbonation is an accelerator of stomach emptying. Keeping alcohol in the stomach longer allows it to be broken down more and absorbed less, thus limiting the rise in blood alcohol. That’s why it’s good to eat while drinking. It slows down the emptying of the stomach.”
  • Wine is close to the pH of stomach acid, which helps digestion. It also, however, makes heartburn worse.
  • Moderate drinking may be a good idea, but there is no way to universally define what that actually means. “Women have a different stomach enzyme,” notes D’Agata, “or these enzymes are blocked by estrogen, so they have a harder time breaking down alcohol than men.” In addition, Apstein adds, 50% of Asians lack the enzyme to break down acid aldeyhde, a key component of alcohol.


  • Hangover remedies don’t work, regardless of whether they’re taken before or after drinking. To avoid a hangover, “drink a liter of water before going to bed,” D’Agata advises. “And probably a little sugar too.”
  • Sorry, but they don’t know what causes red wine headaches. “The Bordelais, who barely acknowledge the existence of white wine, say that’s what gives headaches,” recalls Apstein. “The Champenois say it’s still wine. In Burgundy, they say no wine gives headaches. There’s clearly a cultural overlay. Some think it’s histamines and try to treat it with beta blockers. But most people who get headaches stop drinking wine.”

Alternative Facts on Sulfites

  • Some people – about 1% of Americans, according to the FDA – have a genuine allergic reaction to sulfites, with symptoms like potentially dangerous asthmatic reactions and hives. For the other 99% of us, sulfites are not only not a problem, they keep the wine tasting good. To this, panel moderator Tony Aspler jokes that “the back label should say guaranteed to contain sulfites.”

    “Sulfites are an overblown worry,” adds Apstein. “The gorilla in the bottle is alcohol. It’s not the sulfites. It’s not any additive. It’s the alcohol.”

    He continues, via email, that there’s no obvious reason a low-sulfite wine would have greater health benefits for people not allergic to sulfites than one with higher concentrations.

  • Along those lines, D’Agata states that most natural wines smell like bruised apples. “If acetylaldehyde molecules don’t bind with sulfur, we get free acetylaldehyde,” he offers. “People talk about natural wines showing terroir. They all smell like bruised apples, and that comes from acetylaldehyde. That’s not terroir.”

Women’s Health

  • On wine and pregnancy, there isn’t good news for women. The fetus is most sensitive in the first three months, D’Agata cautions, adding that “it’s probably safe to say it’s best not to drink any alcohol in the first trimester.” The problem is, of course, that many women don’t immediately realize they’re pregnant.

    As for later in pregnancy, Apstein contributes, “we know that a woman who drinks a pint of vodka a day will deliver a severely deformed child. If she drinks a teaspoon of wine a day, however, does that increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? We don’t know. We don’t have data, and there’s never going to be a study on pregnant women.”

  • While I’m delivering women bad news, here’s more. “Some studies show that alcohol is beneficial for some forms of cancer,” points out D’Agata. “But not breast cancer. Breast cancer is a bad issue. For the most part, if there’s history in the family, it’s probably best to abstain from alcohol.” He later follows up by email, saying there is one study implying that drinking with a family history of breast cancer may be OK.


  • Breathalyzer tests measure alcohol absorbed from the mouth, even without swallowing the wine, according to Apstein. So even compulsive spitters should beware driving after big wine tastings.
  • There is good news for diabetics. “Peak blood sugar concentration is 30% lower after a meal that includes a glass of wine,” D’Agata reports. “That lower blood sugar is at the core of why wine is good for you.”

    Apstein adds that “most of the advice on drinking for diabetics assumes they’re not going to be eating. With dry wines, you should be able to calculate the calories. A 750 ml bottle of 12.5% alcohol wine is about 500 calories. It’s not all that much.”

Teach ‘Em Young

  • Both doctors think we should teach kids how to drink. (Note: They don’t like that wording, but I do, because alcohol education in this country usually equals abstinence education. So, How To Drink 101.)

    “There are a lot of activities that are pleasurable and potentially dangerous, like alcohol. Like driving. Like sex,” Apstein opines. “We have driver’s education. We have sex education. We need drinking education. This country is crazy. You can’t drink anything until age 21 and then you can drink as much as you want. We need alcohol education.”

    “We could do something at the school level and get them early and promote a healthy way to drink wine,” concludes D’Agata.

So there you have it, 15 facts about wine and health that you may not have known before! If you’d like some more great facts about wine and wine tasting, I’d be happy to help out! Give us a call at 415-337-4083 or email to and I’ll be glad to assist!

Wine Diva + Video Game Producer = AMAZING NAPA WINES

The team of Heidi Barrett (Wine Diva a.k.a Queen of the Valley) and famed viticulturist David Abreu are the axile driving CapCom owner Kenzo Tsujimoto’s Napa Valley winery.  The vineyard was planted in 1998, and the first release (2005 vintage) was in 2008.  Since then “Kenzo” has become an household name for top-notch, high-end Napa Valley wines.

The new wines:

2016 Kenzo Estate Sauvignon Blanc “Asatsuyu” Napa Valley 
Retail 95.00 – GGWC 89.99
Use code KENZO during checkout

OK to mix & match with other Kenzo wines

Translated as “Morning Dew”, Asatsuyu is the only Sauvignon Blanc made by Heidi Barrett and the only white wine from Kenzo Estate. Wonderful citrus aromatics de‑ne the 2016 asatsuyu’s characteristics. Intertwined with notes of vanilla and guava nectar and peach preserves, Asatsuyu is an aromatic marvel that greets you long before the first swirl. Complementing this aromatic anomaly is a broad and sumptuous palate, framed by a lingering mouth-watering acidity. Drink now and drink chilled.

2013 Kenzo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “Ai” Napa Valley 
Retail 310.00 – GGWC 299.99
Use code KENZO during checkout

OK to mix & match with other Kenzo wines

James Suckling 97 Points:  “Aromas of tobacco and black currants. Full in body, pinpoint fruit and tannins that melt into the wine.  Dense yet agile.  Goes on for minutes.  Superb, classic structure showing immaculate finesse and style.  Better in a few years, but hard no to drink now!”

Heidi Barrett: “Ai represents the color indigo in the Japanese language and has been used in the ancient art of textile dyeing for thousands of years throughout Japan. Derived from plant material, indigo is an elusive commodity, just as the wine that bears its name, the 2013 Ai. Sweet notes of cinnamon, dried apricot and orange zest describe this sizzling aromatic puzzle. While savory spices like white pepper, sage and thyme lead you to a dark and austere palate of soft tannins. Like the Indigo artist who carefully applies his craft, the 2013 Ai is constructed with the gentlest touch from our talented winemaking team. Enjoy now and for many years to come.”

Click here or on the links above to order!