New Wave Petite Sirah is not a “little” wine

The new wave of Petite Sirah winemaking going on these days is drawing attention and changing the way this grape is regarded.  Surging forward is the recognition by winemakers, insiders, wine judges and critics that Petite Sirah is a time-tested noble grape that is truly deserving the status as a classic California varietal.  Robert Biale has been producing this varietal for years, and I would say that this might be the best one he has ever produced and for me it deserves the title of “Petite Sirah of the Year”!

A little word play, re-arrange the letters of Royal Punishers to learn the names of Petite Sirah’s parents: Syrah and Peloursin  (SYRAH + PELOURSIN =  ROYAL PUNISHERS)

Robert Biale 2016 Petite Sirah “Royal Punishers” Napa Valley 
GGWC 49.99
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OK to mix & match with Biale Zinfandel

This 2016 Royal Punishers Petite Sirah is a plush, pure, and tempting example of Napa Valley red wine at its highest level:  deep, deep blackish blue opaque color, redolent of blueberry, blackberry liqueur, chocolate, dust and a touch of vanilla, with faint aromatics of black tea. Full bodied, intense yet extremely elegant on the mid-palate bursting with bright well-polished fruit that is extremely harmonious.  The firm and velvety tannins make for a gentle giant of a Petite Sirah that will age gracefully for a decade – or possibly two. Definitely a wine of which to stock some extra bottles away for long term gratification.

Winemaker Notes: “Intense deep, dark blue/black color profile. Aromas of plum, quince, violets, figs, molasses, caramel and marbled rye awaken the nose. The entry is soft and weighty, then builds into a broad mid palate structure which has layers of ripe, black fruit flavors. The tannins are mouthwatering and medium grained which hold the fruit profile and carry a long, lingering finish.”

Also check out their limited production  Biale 2016 Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Napa Valley

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15% OFF & FREE SHIPPING OF SUPERB 96 Point Napa Cabernet

After the success with her own label, Helen Keplinger is out of control (in a very good way)!  The latest releases of Carte Blanche Cabernet and Proprietary Red showcase Helen’s amazing talents.  Only a few hundred cases of this mindboggling wine was produced from this “next” Haut Brion of the Napa Valley! This wine received  a 100 point wine in my book!

This family has been in the wine business for nearly a century, since his great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 and the family company, Domaine. Clarence Dillon, subsequently purchased Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. This was the inspiration to produce his own boutique label in Napa Valley

Carte Blanche 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Net 129.99 – TODAY ONLY 109.99
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Robert Parker 96 Points: “Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon from Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper vineyard with 6% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. It offers up notions of crushed blackberries, warm blueberries and dried herbs with suggestions of cedar, Marmite toast and unsmoked cigar. Medium to full-bodied with impressive concentration and a rock-solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins, the palate delivers mouth-filling black and blue fruit with a lively kick on the long, earthy finish. 400 cases were made.”

Winemaker Notes: “The 2014 Carte Blanche Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon showcases Oakville’s Missouri Hopper Vineyard owned by Andy Beckstoffer. 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reveals the delicate balance of ripe dark fruits, plush velvety tannins, savory notes, structure and minerality. Ballard vineyard’s 6% Petite Verdot provides a brooding base note, depth and nuance.  A hint of Cabernet Franc, 1% from Kuleto Vineyard, was the perfect touch to round out this stunning wine.”

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175 case Blind Wine Tasting Surprise

My tasting group of 12 brought in a nice selection of 2014 Chardonnays from Oregon and California. The impressive lineup included:

  • Cattleya “Pratt” 95 Pt (RP)
  • Bergstrom “Sigrid” 95 Pt (RP)
  • Brewer Clifton “Hapgood” 95 Pt (RP)
  • Martinelli “Zio Tony” 95 Pt (AG)
  • White Rock “Breccia” 96 Pt (RP)
  • Sanguis “Loner” 94 Pt (RP)
  • Ramey “Ritchie” 95 Pt (RP)
  • Paul Lato “Souvenir” 96 Pt (RP)
  • DuMOL “Estate” 96 Pt (RP)
  • Kistler “Hudson” 96 Pt (AG)
  • Bethel Heights “Casteel” 94 Pt (RP)
  • Littorai “Mays Canyon” 94 Pt (AG)
  • Bethel Heights “Casteel” 94 Pt (RP)

The surprise winner –  Bethel Heights “Casteel” which garnered 7 of the 12 first place, 3 second and 2 third place votes from our panel. Paul Lato received 4 first, 5 second and 3 second place votes followed by DuMol “Estate they received 1 first, 2 second and 6 third place votes.   Very surprised that Kistler, Ramey and Littorai came in at the bottom of the pack.  That is the great thing about doing blind tastings!

Bethel Heights 2014 “Casteel” Chardonnay
GGWC 79.99 net item
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In 1977 Ted Casteel, Pat Dudley, Terry Casteel, and Marilyn Webb abandoned the academic life and bought 75 promising-looking acres northwest of Salem, with 14 acres of newly planted cuttings in the ground. In 1981 they harvested their first crop and started home winemaking in Terry’s basement. In 1984 they produced their first commercial vintage, and now the second generation has taken over the reigns!

Winemaker Notes: “Our 2014 Casteel Chardonnay opens with aromas of preserved lemon, brioche, white pepper and fresh ginger. The palate is both graceful and energetic, displaying the tension of a wine that will age gracefully over the next 8 to 10 years.”

Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2014 Chardonnay Casteel Reserve had just been bottled. It has a perfumed nose of white flowers and melted candle wax, very well defined with lime and frangipane aromas developing. The palate is well balanced with a crisp, citrus lemon and lime-driven opening. This feels spicier than the Justice Vineyard Chardonnay, gaining depth towards the finish that has a bit of fire in its belly. This is a very well-crafted Chardonnay that should age with style.”

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Heidi Barrett’s ONLY White Wine is Back!

The only white wine from La Sirena, this Moscato is an unusual, delicious dry (not sweet) expression of Muscat Canelli. In its signature blue bottle, Moscato Azul has become a fan favorite for its drinkability, perfumey aroma, crisp acidity, and ability to pair well with many different dishes. It’s especially perfect during the spring and summer time on warm days.

La Sirena 2017 Moscato Azul (Dry), Napa Valley
GGWC 29.99 net
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The 2017 is a clear white-gold color, with vibrant clean aromas of bright tropical fruit and jasmine -honeysuckle floral notes. Crisp and round across the palate, with flavors of pineapple, lychee fruit, and white nectarine. It has a clean finish with bright acidity, and an elegant, polished profile. The 2017 marks the 15th release of Moscato Azul, our proprietary white wine recognizable by its unique style and consistency each year. Reminiscent of dry Riesling with a bit of minerality and lime peel in the finish when served very chilled. It has tons of flavor without weightiness, enticingly fresh and lively, crisp and dry in the finish.

Robert Parker says: ”A wine that Heidi Barrett does better than just about anybody in California is her unbelievably fun Moscato Azul… Reminiscent of northern Italy’s famous Moscatos. A slow cold fermentation renders a wine with an explosive perfume of spring flowers and tropical fruits. This is an ideal aperitif or breakfast wine, or it can be enjoyed at the end of a meal ”. And… ”Barrett has hit pay dirt with a lively, consumer-friendly dry Muscat… It’s a shame more California wineries don’t produce these wines.. It is fresh, light bodied, and crisp… seductive aromatics”.

Actor Alan Rickman, of Bottle Shock fame, once remarked that “it was the most delicious thing ever to pass through his lips”. Can’t argue with that!

Also check out:

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This venture is still somewhat below the radar, although I’ve been working with them for about 5 years now.  Tiny production, but amazing quality Cabernet sourced from one of Napa’s premium vineyards, which would be classified as a “First Growth Vineyard” in France – So let’s call it “Top-of-the-line” here!

Memento Mori is translated from Latin as “Remember That You Will Die.” The winery owners Hayes Drumwright, Adriel Lares & Adam Craun translate it as “Remember To Live!”

Memento Mori 2015 Cabernet, Napa Valley
GGWC 224.99 NET
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Robert Parker 97 Points: “A decadent blend of fruit from Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras, Oakville Ranch and Weitz vineyards, aged 22 months in 100% new French oak, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon has a very deep purple-black color and gorgeous nose of exotic spices and incense notions—cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, fenugreek and sandalwood—with a cassis and plum preserves core, plus hints of cigar box and menthol. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is rich and opulent, with seductively velvety tannins and invigorating freshness, finishing very long with provocative earthy suggestions coming through.

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CELIA WELCH, “The World’s Most Influential Woman in Wine”

“The World’s Most Influential Woman in Wine”
The Drinks Business magazine recently published its list of The World’s Most Influential Women in Wine. Our very own Celia Welch made the number three spot! As a child growing up in Oregon, Celia Welch would sit under a giant oak in her back garden picking grapes from their stems for her winemaker father. During high school she dreamed of working as a perfume maker in France, but, after graduating from UC Davis with a degree in fermentation science, she fled to New Zealand and Australia’s Barossa Valley instead to gain valuable winemaking experience before returning to the Napa Valley to work at Silverado Vineyards.

Moving to Robert Pepi winery in the early 90s, she went on to consult for a number of top Napa names during the 90s, including Staglin Family Vineyard. Today Welch is responsible for California ‘cult’ wine Scarecrow. Launched in 2006, Scrarecrow’s debut 2003 vintage, made from old-vine Cabernet grown on a 10-hectare plot in Rutherford, was given 98 points by Robert Parker – a feat only bettered by Screaming Eagle.

A year on, the 2004 vintage sold out in 16 hours. With just 400-800 cases produced annually, depending on the vintage, the wine has a celebrity following and commands healthy hammer prices at auction. In 2004 Welch launched her own label, Corra, named after the Celtic goddess of prophecy, where she makes high-end Cabernet from grapes grown in Rutherford, Oakville and Pritchard Hill.

Keen for her wines to bear the hallmarks of the land from which they came rather than the hand that made them, to retain the vineyard’s personality Welch picks earlier than many in Napa. The wine she’s most proud of so far is the aforementioned Scarecrow 2003. “Even in barrel shortly after fermentation the wine was a knockout. I was tremendously proud that it presented itself with such beauty and complexity on release,” she says. “It’s such a thrill to take an existing vineyard and realise the quality that was there all along.”

FYI:  We stock a wide range of Celia Welch’ wines, but after this article they will be gone quickly!


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April Showers bring May Flowers & an Outstanding Spring/Summer-like SAUV BLANC

Scarlett Wines is a family operation owned by the McGah family, who are most notably known for co-founding the Oakland Raiders. Representing over four generations of wine growers, the family’s personal touch can be felt from the soil to the glass. The winery previously operated under the name McGah Family Cellars and rebranded in 2015 in honor of its flagship wine, Scarlett, which is named after the founder’s daughter.

Scarlett 2016 Sauvignon Blanc “Estate” Rutherford, Napa Valley
Retail 27.99
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Fresh and sublime as the summer sunlight, Scarlett Sauvignon Blanc is a medium to full-bodied wine that instantly captures the senses with aromas of honeysuckle, Meyer lemons and lime blossoms.  This captivating Cali rendition showcases a creamy and smooth mid-palate framed by perfectly integrated acidity carrying the Scarlett trademark freshness throughout the finish.  This fabulous SB is the perfect compliment to the delightful spring and summer seasons, ready for sipping by a sparkling pool or on a sunlight porch.  Serve slightly chilled and pair with hearty dishes crafted with delectable cuts of fish, chicken or duck to create a match made in heaven.

Also check out the outstanding Scarlett Cabernet Sauvignon & Zinfandel!

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Moderate red wine consumption has a protective effect against prostate cancer

Moderate red wine consumption has a slightly protective effect against prostate cancer
Contributed by Johannes Angerer
Medical University Vienna

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the Western world. Between 15 to 20 percent of men are affected by it at some time in their lives and 2.6 percent die from prostate cancer. That equates to 1,000 deaths a year in Austria. Apart from genetic factors, environmental (epigenetic) risk factors also play a role in the development of prostate cancer: proven factors include e.g. smoking, high sugar intake or high consumption of red meat. An international research team led by Shahrokh Shariat, Head of MedUni Vienna’s Department of Urology, has now conducted a meta-analysis of the risk factor of wine consumption – with a somewhat surprising result: moderate wine consumption does not generally increase the risk significantly. And: drinking a moderate amount of red wine even has a slightly protective effect.

According to Shariat, “moderate” means approximately one glass a day. The results demonstrated that the risk is not significantly increased, so long as one takes account of the other risk factors and does not smoke or eat too much sugar or red meat, as Shariat describes in his book “Prostate Cancer: Prevention. Diagnosis. Treatment.” Furthermore, the retrospective analysis of 17 high-quality studies including around 611,000 patients showed that moderate red wine consumption exhibits a slightly protective effect. Says Shariat: “This reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by around 12 percent, whereas consuming white wine increased it by 26 percent.”

Protective polyphenols?

The researchers now want to find out which components of red wine have this protective effect and whether this can also be used therapeutically – for example in high-risk groups. “Indeed, it has already been shown that polyphenols, which are predominantly found in red wine, can have a protective effect in other diseases and other types of cancer,” said the urologist. Red wine contains 10x the amount of polyphenols found in white wine, which might explain the observed results.

Furthermore, the European Food Authority has confirmed that polyphenol-rich olive oil helps to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress. Polyphenols have already been shown to have a beneficial effect on platelet aggregation in the arteries and on insulin sensitivity. “Potentially the polyphenols from red wine can be used preventatively. The question is: what can we learn from the results of the study – and how can we use that in science and preventive medicine?”

Bevan New Releases Now Available!

The much anticipated releases of Russell Bevan’s “Burgundy Portfolio” have arrived! As always very limited and first-come, first-served!

Bevan 2016 Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
GGWC 79.99
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OK to mix with other Bevan releases!

Winemaker Notes: “The Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir is made up of four different clones and all of them are expressed on different levels. The power and massive textures come from the Pommard clone, the floral aromatics from the Swan, roasted earth from the Calera and bright fruit from the 828 clone. The combination is a powerful, deep wine that in the glass looks like Cabernet but in the nose is all Pinot Noir seduction. In the world of Pinot Noir this is an 800-pound gorilla.”

Robert Parker (2014) 96 Points: “I tasted four Pinot Noirs from 2014, all of them stunning. My favorite is the 2014 Pinot Noir Petaluma Gap, which is made from Dijon clones 777, 115 and 828 and aged in a combination of François Freres and Gamba oak. He doesn’t filter, so what he has in the barrels ends up in the bottle. The wine has an incredible fragrance of spring flowers, black raspberries, kirsch and licorice, with forest floor. This is a full-bodied, dense, wonderfully textured Pinot Noir with beautiful purity and a long finish – a sumptuous Côtes de Nuit grand cru look-alike. Drink it over the next decade or more.”

Bevan 2016 Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir
GGWC 79.99
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Winemaker Notes: “Our Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir is also a massive wine, but is much more focused on the mid- palate and back of the mouth. The wines from Santa Rita are inky and dark. Plum, cherry, raspberry, the fruits come at you in waves. The textures are pure velvet. This is as decadent of a Pinot Noir as we have ever made.”

Robert Parker (2015) 96 Points: “Across the board, production is smaller in 2015 and I saw many of the same wines that I tasted from bottle in 2014, plus a few newer items. The only Pinot Noir offered was the 2015 Pinot Noir Santa Rita, which looks to be sensational, with exotic notes of blood oranges intermixed with black cherry, Asian spice and blacker fruits in a full-bodied, lush texture with loads of sweet tannin and plenty of glycerin. This will be a sexy beast when released in a year or so.”

Bevan 2016 “Ritchie” Chardonnay
GGWC 69.99
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OK to mix with other Bevan releases!

Winemaker Notes:Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay is our consistent stunner. The long, even-growing season in 2016 allowed us to leave the fruit on the vine longer than we normally do. This, combined with the fact that we only got 1.6 tons per acre, allowed the fruit to develop incredibly thick skins, which equates to power and richness. The nose is more Cote du Beaune than any Chardonnay we have ever made, but the mouth is all California. It is oily and layered. Fruit dominates, but there is a minerality to it that also plays a major role. There is also a slight green tint to the wine as we aggressively fought to limit oxygen exposure, so we could capture as much of the wines verve as possible. You can drink her now or wait for five to seven years and she will still be a beauty.”

Robert Parker (2014) 95 Points: “His 2014 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is 100% from this famous vineyard source for Chardonnay, planted with the old Wente clone. There are 250 cases of this wine, which is aged in three-fourths François Frères cooperage and the remainder in Remond. Light golden with a greenish hue, the wine reveals honeyed apricot, white peach, wet pebbles and floral notes. It is rich, full-bodied, loaded with minerality and extremely pure, with the oak well-concealed. This should drink well for 4-5 years, if not longer.”

Bevan 2017 “Dry Stack” Sauvignon Blanc
GGWC 34.99
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Winemaker Notes: “The 2017 Dry Stack Sauvignon Blanc is an incredibly expressive wine already, just weeks in the bottle. The nose is all about the tropics. Pineapple, guava and kiwi dominate. The wine is lively and the glycerin levels are off the chart, giving it a super seductive mid palate. This wine will disappear from your cellar quickly after you open your first bottle”

Robert Parker (2015) 96 Points: “I have said before that Bevan’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Dry Stack Vineyard in Bennett Valley is one of California’s finest examples of this Italian clone of Sauvignon Blanc that is planted in these gravelly, loamy soils. His 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Stack Vyd may be his best to date, simply because yields were lower, and there is even more concentration. This wine is aged half and half in stainless steel and the rest in François Frères Burgundy barrels. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine has a spectacular bouquet of caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, orange blossom and brioche. It is amazingly rich and dense, with the texture of a great grand cru white Burgundy or top California Chardonnay. This is his best yet, and I’ve been buying it every year since I discovered it. Drink it over the next 5-6 years.”

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97 Pointer by Russell Bevan’s disciple

Kimberly Hatcher is the longtime assistant to Russell Bevan and has kept her eyes and ears open as she is on a roll now! Robert Parker and Jeb Dunnuck have “noticed” her and the press is out! That said, Kimberly’s wines are very small productions, and with the high scores… they will sell out fast!

She also makes the wines at the Tench Caves, and I am sure Russell might be looking over her shoulder once in a while… (or maybe not)

Morgado 2016 Chardonnay “Steiner Vineyard” Sonoma Coast
GGWC 62.99
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Sourced from the Steiner Vineyard in Sonoma, this wine will really wow you!  Bold, intense, and front and back loaded with bright and luscious flavors and aromas. This is a finger licking great Chardonnay (sorry only a few barrels produced!)

Robert Parker 97 Points: “A barrel sample composed of Wente clone selections, the 2016 Chardonnay Steiner Vineyard is a total rock star on the nose, sporting intense, wonderfully expressive apricots, guava and green mango notes with nuances of baked almonds, allspice and honeycomb. Full-bodied and full-on rich and seductive, it sports a gorgeous creamy texture and tons of tropical and savory flavor layers, finishing very long.”

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