Scary but true, Pommard meets California

Scar of the Sea wines is a shared vision between long-time friends and colleagues, Mikey Giugni and Michael Brughelli. The mission for Scar of the sea wines is to produce wine and cider that are unique to a place, balanced, complex, and most importantly are fun and delicious to drink.Scar of the Sea 2015 Pinot Noir “Q Block” Bien Nacido, Santa Barbara
Retail 70.00 – GGWC 64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code SCAR15 during checkout
The 2015 Q Block offers up a distinct character and Inky color.  This wine is rich, concentrated but incredibly gorgeous and silky. The mid-palate is lush with fabulous notes of ripe raspberry and spring flowers.  A slight hint of toastiness leads into a rich, layered, silky and fine grained finish.  Only 100 cases produced!  Alc. 13.5%Anthony Galloni 94 Points: “The 2014 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Block Q Is a little more austere than the Block 45, with slightly finer, chalkier tannins, but tons of energy running through it. Bright red stone fruits, white pepper and expressive savory notes all flesh out nicely. The 2014 offers quite a bit of gravitas, and while it is a bit brooding, it should start drinking nicely with another 6-12 months in bottle. The Block Q is all Pommard clone Pinot.”

Winemaker Notes: “The 2015 Pinot Noir from Q Block at Bien Nacido Vineyards is a snapshot of Santa Barbara County history. Planted to Pommard clone on its own roots in 1973, this is one of the oldest producing Pinot Noir plantings in the region. The wine shows a prominence of red fruits layered with elements of spice. This wine was produced with 25% new French Oak and 25% Whole Cluster fermentation. It rested in barrel for 18 months before being carefully prepared for bottling without the use of any fining or filtration.”

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Why red wine drinkers may have the best sex!

Why red wine drinkers may have the best sex,
according to science

by Kristin Salaky

Studies show that red wine may be the only type of alcohol that can improve sex. It can increase testosterone levels and lower the chances of an instance of sexual dysfunctions. But the key is to drink it in moderation.

Everyone who drinks has a pick for what kind of alcohol they prefer — and what they avoid. But when you and your partner are looking to get it on, there may only be one type of bottle to pick up at the store: red wine.

Several studies have found that of all the alcoholic beverages you can have before sex, red wine is the only one that can actually enhance and improve your sexual experience.

This can happen for a few reasons. One study, for example, found that red wine in moderation can boost your testosterone, a hormone that can increase your sexual desire. The key here is moderation, though, as the researchers found that drinking too much wine could actually tank your testosterone levels. Your best bet is to stick to a glass or two with dinner.

Another study found that drinking a moderate amount of red wine actually increases blood flow to women’s’ erogenous zones, and could increase lubrication. The study also found that women who drank red wine had a higher sex drive than those who drank another type of alcohol.

A study also found that polyphenols, which are found in red wine, as wells as berries and chocolate, can decrease instances of erectile dysfunction by 14%. If that wasn’t enough, researchers also pointed out that red wine contains hhistamines, which can increase your sex drive.

They key to take away here is drinking in moderation. If you chug a lot of red wine, that doesn’t mean that your sex is going to be that much better. In fact, you’ll likely make the situation that much worse. But if you’re looking for a drink that will work in your favor on a romantic date, there’s a reason why so many people reach for red wine.

A “Bargain” To-Kalon wine

The name Apsara comes from the Sanskrit word for a celestial dancer whose movements represent the key elements in our wine, balance, purity & expression.  Robin Akhurst learned from some of the best in industry – Anne Claude Leflaive at Dom. Leflaive in Burgundy, Matt Wenk at Two Hands in the Barossa Valley, Thomas Rivers Brown at Schrader & Outpost and Mike Smith at Myriad, 12C & Carter Cellars in the Napa Valley.  Working alongside these Hall of Fame winemakers he gained valuable experience to kick-start his own dream, “Apsara”

Apsara 2016 Sauvignon Blanc “Rivers Reach” Rutherford, Napa Valley
Retail 30.00 – GGWC 26.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use discount code APSARA during check out

Crystal clear with a green-straw color.  This year’s Sauvignon Blanc displays elegant aromas of lychees and passion fruit, alongside notes of pineapple, limes and a touch of green mango. Exotic fruits are complimented by a restrained mineral note that leads through to an almost creamy mid palate. The development of flavors in the mouth is carried through by a refreshing bright acidity that pairs with the phenolic component delivering crisp apple refreshment that lingers through to the finish. The 2016 is a nicely structured wine, whose complexities benefit from some air to display its full character.  This complex, elegant wine, comprised of To-Kalon clones, was barrel fermented in neutral French oak, then aged an additional 6 months in barrel. ONLY 125 cases produced!

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Put a little SPARKLE in your life – A California Exclusive!!

The holidays are still “far” away, but they aren’t, so why not stock up on some bubbly in advance.  On that note, one should not only be drinking bubbly to celebrate a holiday, birthday or wedding. There are plenty of other dishes that one could drink a nice glass of Champagne with as well!  My wife gets upset when I buy flowers on Valentine’s Day, as they are overpriced that day (remember she is a frugal lady of Chinese heritage).  I buy flowers on a Thursday in the middle of month for no occasion, just the fact that I want to.  The same goes for bubbly.  One should celebrate every day of the year with some sparkle, so why not today!

On my trip to Europe in April I encountered some great Champagnes, and did my homework.  A friend of mine was so kind to import them, and here we are six months later…Clotilde is an homage to the first queen of France, is a Blanc de Blanc Cuvee from the Grand Cru vineyards of Michel Turgy in Les Mesnil-Sur-Oger. The steeple on the label (in the L) is a replica of the church where her relics are held at the Eglise Saint-Leu-Saint Gilles de Paris. This extremely limited release is only available in California and France.

Clotilde Brut “Grand-Cru” Champagne, France
Retail 61.00 – GGWC 57.99
Use code BUBBLES during checkout

The Clotilde Grand Cru Champagne is made by Jean Michel Turgy! Sourced from Le Mesnil Sur Oger, this Blanc de Blanc is a 100% Chardonnay bottling produced from a few small parcels in this remarkable appellation. This amazing bubbly expresses all its generosity and grand delicacy with its very harmonious flowery nose, and in the mouth expresses hints of apple and honey with a nice golden color and a very seductive froth.

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Above the “Wine” Law? A 96+ Pointer Cab/Rhone blend

Scott Hawley, winemaker at famed Torrin (many 95-98 point rated wines) is the skipper at the helm of Law Estate in Paso Robles. 80% of the estate is planted to Syrah and Grenache, while the rest of the property consists of Mourvedre, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane.  This winery is doing amazingly well, so get on board now before this becomes the next Sine Qua None (that would mean “None” for you if you don’t bite now).

Law Estate 2014 Audacious “Prop Red” Paso Robles
Retail 80.00 – GGWC 76.99
Use code LAW14 during checkout

This intrinsic wine continues to be a perpetual head turner for all that cross its path. The amalgam of Rhone and Bordeaux varietals is stylishly complex, creating an abundant nose of red berries, supported by notes of cassis and floral notes. This leads to an encore of eucalyptus, dark chocolate and black tea leaves. At roughly 60% new French oak for 22 months, this wine is a perfect marriage of fresh mouth feel and integrated grippy tannins, that allows you to enjoy it now, or watch its progression over the next 15 years.

Robert Parker 96+ Points: “The 2014 Audacious (blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Grenache & Petit Verdot) has a very deep garnet-purple color and a nose of crushed black currants, blackberry preserves and raspberry tart with hints of baking spices, menthol, cardamom and sandalwood. Full-bodied and full-throttle in terms of flavor and structure in the mouth, it is not a wine for the faint-hearted, but will deliver the goods for the hedonists. Big, bold and, as the name suggests, audacious, it offers a pleasant herbal lift on the finish.”

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The Basics of Red Wine

Red Wine Information & Basics

Increase your knowledge and learn the basics with our red wine 101 guide,
full of helpful information about flavor profiles, grapes and regions.
By Paul Gregutt

With hundreds of varieties of red wine grapes, there is as much red wine information to learn about as there are red grapes planted in all corners of the globe. That being said, you’ll likely encounter only a handful of these grapes most often. In our red wine basics section, we cover the flavor profiles and regions of the most common red wine grapes. You can certainly choose to discover more beyond this short list, but for a quick and easy red wine 101, the following will fit the bill.

Cabernet Franc
Flavors: Violets, blueberry, earth, black olive, coffee

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Cabernet Franc is part of the essential blending triad that makes up the majority of the Bordeaux blend (and Meritage) red wines produced in the United States. On its own, Cabernet Franc is a more tannic, earthy cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon. In warmer sites outside of Europe, its most distinctive attributes are its pure notes of violets and blueberry, and its ripe tannins often carry the scent of fresh roasted coffee. It is made (though rarely labeled) as a varietal in Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where it is hard and tannic and can evoke an austere minerality. In Pomerol and Saint-Émilion it is featured in blends with Merlot, adding a spicy, pungent, sometimes minty note.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Flavors: Bell pepper, green olive, herb, cassis, black cherry

The primary component of great Bordeaux and the defining grape of the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world, but rarely achieves greatness. It ripens late and can be quite weedy and even vegetal in cooler climate regions such as Chile. In Bordeaux and Tuscany it is almost always blended to soften its intensely astringent tannins. The Napa style is dense, purple-black, jammy and tasting of currants and black cherries. Thick and ripe, layered with expensive new oak scents and flavors, it has almost single-handedly created the phenomenon of the cult wineries. In Washington, the best Cabernet straddles the border between the ripeness of California versions and the nuanced herb, leaf, and olive flavors of great Bordeaux.

Flavors: Spice, cherry

Old vine Grenache makes some of the greatest red wines of both Spain and Australia, and is an important component of Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Côtes du Rhône in France. An early-ripening grape, it tends toward high alcohol and low acidity. At its best it creates very fruity, spicy, bold-flavored wines somewhat reminiscent of a softer, less-intense version of Syrah.

Flavors: Sour cherry, spice

One of the lesser blending grapes of Bordeaux, Malbec has risen to prominence in Argentina, where it makes spicy, tart red wines that take well to aging in new oak barrels. Elsewhere it remains a minor player, though a few varietally labeled Malbecs are made in California and Washington.

Flavors: Watermelon, strawberry, cherry, plum

Merlot is the Chardonnay of reds, easy to pronounce, easy to like, agreeable, and versatile, but mostly lacking any substantive character of its own. The great exception is Chateau Pétrus, where it comprises 95 percent of the blend. Varietal Merlot rose to popularity in the 1990s but too many insipid, watery, over-priced Merlots have taken the bloom off the rose. Outside of Bordeaux, it is at its very best in Washington state, where it ripens beautifully and creates plump, powerful wines that can age for a decade or more.

Flavors: Spice, cherry

This Mediterranean red grape is especially popular in France and Spain, making medium-bodied, lightly spicy wines with pretty, cherry-flavored fruit. The best sites also add a distinctive, gravelly minerality to the fruit. Some old vine plantings of Mourvèdre remain in California and also in Australia, where it is generally featured in a blend with Shiraz and Grenache.

Pinot Noir
Flavors: Tomato leaf, beet root, pale cherry, blackberry, cola, plum

Pinot Noir is the grape that winemakers love to hate; it is the prettiest, sexiest, most demanding, and least predictable of all. The template for great Pinot Noir is Burgundy, but even there the grape is flighty, fragile, and prone to obstinately weedy flavors. It is a principal component of many Champagnes and other sparkling wines, but can also be ripened to produce wines of surprising density and even jammyness in California, New Zealand, and warm sites in Oregon. Pinot Noir is best expressed as a pure varietal, and is often featured as a single-vineyard wine in Oregon and California, emulating the hundreds of tiny appellations of Burgundy. When at its best, Pinot has an ethereal delicacy yet can age for decades; it is most memorably described as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.”

Flavors: Pie cherry, anise, tobacco leaf

The principal grape of Tuscany, where it is the primary component of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese is relatively light in color and quite firmly acidic. In Italy it shows distinctive flavors of pie cherry, anise, and tobacco; elsewhere it can be rather plain and undistinguished, though some promising bottles have come from Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. Many of Italy’s “Super Tuscan”  red blends marry Sangiovese to Cabernet Sauvignon, a combination that both strengthens the Sangiovese and smooths out the Cabernet.

Flavors: Blackberry, boysenberry, plum, pepper, clove

Plantings of Syrah have exploded in California and Washington, where sappy, spicy, peppery, luscious versions are being made. Known as Shiraz in Australia, it is unarguably that country’s claim to enological fame. Australian Shiraz is made in every conceivable style, from light and fruity to dense and tarry; it is made as a deep red, tannic sparkling wine, and also as a fortified “Port”. In the northern Rhône, the most extraordinary expressions of the grape are produced, especially in Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, where its peppery, dense, spicy fruit is layered into unbelievably complex wines streaked with mineral, smoked meat, tar, wild herb, and leather.

Flavors: Raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, raisin, prune

For decades Zinfandel was California’s grape, though now it is grown all over the west coast of the United States, in Australia, Italy, and elsewhere, and its ancestry has been traced to Croatia. But California Zinfandel remains the model for all others, and it grows well and vinifies distinctively all over the state. Mendocino makes somewhat rustic versions with hints of Asian spices; Dry Creek Zinfandels are racy and laden with raspberry. In Amador and Gold Rush country it is hot, thick, and jammy, while in Napa it is plush with ripe, sweet black cherry flavors. California Zinfandels now commonly reach 15 or 16 percent alcohol levels; sometimes even higher for late harvest versions. Zinfandel “Ports” are also made.

Now you are more informed about red wines than most of your friends! But if this all left your head spinning, never fear! At Golden Gate Wine Cellars, we are always happy to lend a hand or a bit of advice when it comes to selecting the perfect wine for a special occasion, a quiet dinner, or even just an evening sunset.  Feel free to give us a call at 415-337-4083 or email

Under $50 Napa Cab turns heads

Tony Biagi from Spottswoode, Plumpack, Senegal etc. fame has a lot of experience under his belt!  So when he rolles up his sleeves, he becomes linebacker and ballerina at the same time.  His big stature shows roughness, yet his wines show elegance, thus a ballerina of sorts.  Tony believes in quality/value wines and overdelivered with this 2014 Cabernet. He sourced the fruit for this 2014 Cabernet (a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot, 2% Malbec) from a few stellar vineyards throughout the valley (60% valley floor, 40% mountain vineyards).

AMICI 2014 CABERNET, Napa Valley
Retail 53.00 – GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code AMICI during checkout

A rich, opaque purple in color, this wine offers up aromas of ripe blackberry, black currant, pie spice and vanilla, revealing greater spice, tobacco and notes of bittersweet chocolate on the palate. Smooth and rich with a velvety texture.  Very well-balanced with a long, decadent finish.

Robert Parker: “This is not only a good value, but an attractive Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrants and blackberry fruit, forest floor as well as plenty of loamy soil notes and underbrush in a medium to full-bodied, supple, round, juicy style.”

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Value Still “Happens”

Pied-à-Terre is the realization of many years Richard Luftig put in working in the restaurant and wine industry and grasping that you should be able to find a well-priced bottle of Cabernet under $30.00!  He again succeeded with the 2014 Pied à Terre Cabernet which he sourced from various amazing Sonoma vineyards – Clajeaux, Wild Iris, Grable, Rockpile, Mauritson and Grable.  A well-made, wallet friendly wine!

Pied-à-Terre 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley
Retail 33.00 – GGWC 29.99
Use code PAT on checkout

The 2014 vintage was exceptional, one of the best vintages in Sonoma in recent memory.  The wine offers up gorgeous aromas of vibrant red stone fruit — Bing cherry, black cherry — with a touch of spice, dark chocolate and white pepper notes.  On the palate this medium bodied wine offers up great intensity and freshness.  You’ll encounter flavors of red currants, chocolate, a whiff of toasty vanilla.  This youngster finishes with subtle, mature tannins; a perfect complement to hearty meat dishes

Also check out their AMAZING Sauvignon Blanc!

Pied-à-Terre 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma
Retail 28.00 – GGWC 24.99
use code PAT on checkout

The fruit is sourced from two vineyards in Bennett Valley: Frostwatch and Denmark Street; The vineyard work ensures that the fruit will not be have excessive pyrazines while the meticulous work in the cellar ensures that the wine will be without those reductive passion fruit / grapefruit flavors. I love wines with great energy and texture, and wines that express the varietal characteristics of the grape(s) and the grapes’ respective terroir.

In order to maintain brightness and freshness, Pied à Terre Sauvignon Blanc does not undergo malolactic fermentation — Given that, the wine is fermented and subsequently aged in 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old, used French barrels for 7 months to augment the wine’s texture and complement the wine’s acidity (full disclosure: 10 percent of the barrels are new). In the end, I am proud to say that PAT accomplished its goal: I love drinking my Sauvignon Blanc. I hope you will, too.

Tasting Notes: An enticing, restrained aroma when initially opened, giving way to an ethereal and exotic mix of fennel, pineapple, quince. Light and fresh!

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Beckstoffer “Champagne” Yes, you read it right!

When you think you’ve seen (tasted) it all, something else “pops” up.  The Beckstoffer family has been growing some of the most amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros for years and my old friend Don Baumhefner owner of the Elusive Chateau Beaux Hauts Bubbly produced one of the best bubblies to ever come from California.  He just released his recently disgorged 2010 En Tirage “Blanc de Blancs” sparkling wine, sorry cannot call it “Champagne” here, but hey, this is worthy of being called Champagne in my book!

Only 322 cases produced, so this one will go very quick!  For those sensitive ones, only 12% ABV

En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blancs, Beckstoffer Vineyard, Carneros
GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more!
Use code ENTIRAGE during checkout

“The pale straw color and very subtle sparkling appearance of this wine, veil what lies beneath. Aromas of warm butter croissant, lemon curd, baked apple, and dried honeycomb give the impression you just walked into a French bakery. Toasty and doughy flavors paired with tart citrus fruit and subtle nuttiness convey the maturity and complexity of a wine developing though lees aging. On the palate, these rich flavors are layered upon each other in a savory mille-feuille of structured decadence. Silky effervescence provides the textural background for an elevated acidity to pierce through the gravity of this wine which perfectly expresses the ethos of En Tirage.”
– Desmond Echavarrie, Master Sommelier

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Please consider assisting the wildfire victims

As the owner of Golden Gate Wine Cellars, specializing in boutique CA wineries, I feel it’s my duty to help those who allowed me to be successful the past 12 years.

Please consider donating to the GoFundMe campaign that we have established to help those small Napa and Sonoma winery owners who have lost so much in these wildfires.

In addition, Golden Gate Wine Cellars will donate 5% of its October sales to wine country relief.

Your support is greatly appreciated!
Thank you.