Thomas Rivers Brown’s own Rivers Marie!

Thomas Rivers Brown does not need any intro.  He’d be able to convert horse manure into gold flakes!  In the past 15 years he has made more than 25 wines that have received perfect scores from Robert Parker or Wine Spectator.

As of this fall he oversees a total of 40 wineries, making multiple cuvées for most, at five different facilities. His current roster includes Chiarello, Outpost, Schrader, Aston Estate, Boars’ View, Maybach, Rivers-Marie, Seaver Vineyards, Hestan, Casa Piena, Saunter, Wallis, Black Sears, Harris Estate, Kinsella, Jones Family, Travail, Stone the Crows, Pulido-Walker, Post Parade, Riverain, Shibumi Knoll, Hobel, Revana, Ampère, 4 Winds, the Grade, Round Pond, Theorem, Senses, Mending Wall, Sodhani, Vermeil, Gemstone, and QTR.

Rivers Marie 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
79.99 net
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Thomas Rivers Brown Notes: “The composition of our 2016 Napa appellation wine is very similar to the 2015 version:  clones 4 and 6 from Panek, the lower block of Lore, Pellet Vineyard in St Helena and two blocks from Kennedy Vineyard on Franz Valley School Road in Calistoga.  Even with no Herb Lamb or Larkmead in the blend, the wine still provides an early drinking insight into the character of the four vineyard designated bottlings from 2016. If 2015 was defined by fruit sweetness, this vintage is framed by ripe tannin.  The fruit is a bit darker as well, leaning toward black fruits and thus a more serious seeming offering.  The various defining attributes of the vineyard sources pop up throughout while experiencing the wine.  The abundant fruit and acid cut of Panek’s valley floor location, the all black fruit, crushed rock minerality of Lore’s east Oakville range, the loamy purple fruit of Pellet’s west St. Helena corridor and the blue fruited cool climate savory-ness of Kennedy’s western Calistoga siting.  Completeness best describes the overall experience.   Fruit, tannin and acidity all come in waves of equal proportion while the tasting experience follows seamlessly from start to finish.”

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INAUGURAL RELEASE = BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC IN NAPA, BAR-NONE!

Celia Welch can easily be voted as one of the best winemakers in the world. That said, give this lady some of the best fruit and you have some of the best wine in the world.

The 2017 Rewa Sauvignon Blanc (Inaugural release) is flat out stunning! Remarkable, a MUST HAVE! Very limited production wine.

Rewa 2017 Sauvignon Blanc “Estate” Napa Valley
GGWC 64.99
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On the nose bright floral aromatics meld seamlessly into a core of generous orchard fruit as this ample, richly-textured white that shows off its considerable personality. 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 bold, yet very elegant texture. If you wouldn’t know you are drinking a Napa white, you might believe it to be a great Grand Cru White Burgundy!

Check out these other great Celia Welch wines:
Rewa Cabernet Sauvignon
Yount Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
Yount Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

Castiel Cabernet Sauvignon
2480 Cabernet Sauvignon
Corra Cabernet Sauvignon
Corra Proprietary White

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LAST CALL Bevan’s 100 POINT 2016 Cabernets & Bordeaux Blends!

We conducted a Bevan tasting this last Saturday to great approval from the attendees. As a result, there is not much left in stock! Fortunately for you, I’ve got a small amount remaining, so hurry if you want to get your hands on these very coveted wines. Call or email me asap for remaining availability!

Tench 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ 98-100 Points Robert Parker:

”Deep purple-black colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard features cassis, ripe plums and mulberries with hints of black forest cake, peach blossoms and bay leaves plus a touch of black pepper. Full-bodied with elegantly played, very fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, it fills the mouth with perfumed black fruit layers, finishing long and minerally. 125 cases were produced.”

Russell’s Notes: “Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has massive blue fruit qualities. The textures are pure Tench: massive and lively.”

Tench 2016 EE Proprietary Red ~ 97-100 Points Robert Parker:

“Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, the 2016 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard reveals a deep garnet-purple color and reticent nose of crushed black and red cherries, mulberries with wafts of dried herbs, lavender and fresh roses plus hints of pencil shavings and tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied, very fine and very fresh in the mouth, it has drop dead gorgeous poise and sophistication with a long, graceful finish that cannot fail to impress.”

Russell’s Notes: “Our EE Red Blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It has a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than ever before making it even livelier than the 2013 EE, a vintage which produced some of our most massive wines. The Cabernet Franc provides an amazing violet quality and the Merlot adds a little extra richness. The result is luxurious, intense dark fruit.

Sugarloaf 2016 Proprietary Red ~ 97-100 Points Robert Parker:

“Very deep purple-black colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard (a barrel sample) gives up profoundly ripe, expressive black berry and cassis scents with underlying chocolate box and spice cake hints plus wafts of roses and dried herbs. Full-bodied, rich, ripe and full on full throttle when it comes to flavors, it has a firm, fine-grained backbone and an epically long finish. 300 cases produced.”

Russell’s notes: “Sugarloaf Mountain Proprietary Red Wine. Wine Advocate has scored the last four vintages of this wine 100, 98+, 100, 99. The 2016 Sugarloaf is better than any of the previous vintages. Drop the mic, walk off. Good night.”

Ontogeny 2016 Proprietary Red NYR (but I’d say 96-98)

Russell’s Notes: “Ontogeny. Like our EE, this is more Cabernet Sauvignon than ever before. Less mineral, more pure fruit. It also has a layer of richness that the previous Ontogeny wines didn’t have. The fruit profile from the additional Cabernet Sauvignon is blackberry, boysenberry and there is a hint of mocha that really pops on the finish. Deep purple, incredibly seductive. This is as decadent as Ontogeny has ever been.”

The 2015 received a 96 Pt rating: “Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Ontogeny Proprietary Red Wine gives a gorgeous nose of spice box, violets and mocha with a core of crème de cassis, ripe plums and black cherries plus a touch of underbrush. Full-bodied, ripe and expressive, it is beautifully open for business right now with a soft, approachable texture and a long, spicy finish.”

Due to the always limited availability these are available on a first-come, first served basis.

In addition, small amounts of these other great Bevan wines are still in stock:
Petaluma Gap 2016 Pinot Noir
Rita’s Crown 2016 Pinot Noir
Ritchie Vineyard 2016 Chardonnay
Dry Stack 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Click here or on the links above to order!

6 Barrel, 95 Point Rated Pinot!


Justin Harmon, owner/winemaker was born in Chicago, to a large Irish family where wine did not play a role in his life while growing up. Milk was the beverage of choice at the dinner table, and the industrial beers of the Midwest, fueled family parties. He does not pinpoint a specific moment that his passion for wine was ignited but, instead, attributes it to a series of experiences, places visited, bottles opened and friendships forged. At this point in life, he can not imagine a life without the joys of all things wine!

Argot 2015 Pinot Noir “Estate” Sonoma Mountain
GGWC 74.99
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Robert Parker 95 Points: “This Pinot leaps from the glass with exuberant notes of red currant jelly, black raspberries, and kirsch followed up by potpourri, lavender, dark chocolate, black soil, and wild thyme scents.  Medium to full bodied, the palate totally over delivers on the fruit vivacity, with intense layers of fragrant earth and red berry notions and a firm yet plush frame, finishing very long and lively.”

Winemaker Notes: “Tending towards the darker side of Pinot Noir with brambly black and red fruits, clove and spruce tips. Somehow, this wine presents density, darkness, elegance and lift, all in concert with one another. Textures are rounded out by rich spice notes of mocha, vanilla and cinnamon. True to 2015, this is a deep and intense wine that shows the pedigree of both its terroir and vintage. This will evolve in the cellar for years to come. A magnificent expression of what Pinot Noir is capable of on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain!”

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Top 100 wine # 3, receives 95 Point rating & FREE SHIPPING

The Beaux Frères Vineyard was a creation of Robert Parker and his brother-in-law (Beaux Frere) Mike Etzel.  The winery/vineayard is located on an 88-acre farm atop Ribbon Ridge in the Chehalem Valley near Newberg (Yamhill County, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA). Tall and stately Douglas fir trees cover nearly 50 acres of the farm, with homestead and winery buildings occupying another 8 acres. The vineyard is situated on 30 acres of steep, contiguous southeast, south and southwest facing hillsides of Willakenzie soils at elevations of around 400 feet. Planting began in 1988 with tightly planted Pinot Noir vines spaced at a density of about 2200 plants to the acre. The oldest vines in the vineyard are now a seasoned 29 years of age, and the vineyard as a whole is a mixture of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones and younger Dijon clones on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.  Recently Robert Parker & Mike Etzel each sold a chunk of their ownership to a French producer.  However, Mike Etzel will remain on a President and winemaker.

Beaux Freres 2016 Pinot Noir “Beaux Freres Vineyard”
GGWC 94.99
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Vinous 95 Points: “Deep lurid red. Intensely perfumed aromas of raspberry liqueur, vanilla, Indian spices and potpourri, along with a hint of smoky minerals that builds in the background. Densely packed and alluringly sweet, showing impressive depth and a bright mineral core to the sappy red berry, spicecake and floral pastille flavors. Gains power with air while maintaining energy and focus. Smooth tannins build slowly and harmonize with the vibrant fruit on an impressively persistent, floral-driven finish.”

Wine Spectator 95 Points: “Offers impressive presence and polish, with a multilayered, complex core wrapped in rich, expressive blueberry and cherry flavors, accented by savory spice and espresso details. Builds depth as this dances toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025.”

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Get this wine for a steal & I give you FREE SHIPPING!

I would never condone stealing, except when it comes to this Pickpocket from our Sans Liege friends. All joking aside, Sans Liege has made a name for itself as one of the best Rhone Varietal producers in the state, and this latest release might be one of the best ones yet-to-date.

Sans Liege 2015 “Pickpocket” Templeton Gap, Paso Robles
GGWC 49.99
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The 2015 Pickpocket (100% Grenache) was sourced from the Alta Colina & Derby vineyards. As the light is stripped softly from the bookcases, heavy curtains and sullen marble floors of this country manor, your host is likely to pour you a nightcap from some inky carafe. You are met with a rich perfume of brandied cherry Ceylon tea, fresh plum, nutmeg shard and black chocolate. A final cup of fine ground coffee is served. The sunken glass of the windows waxes to obsidian, and a prick begins worming in your mind: this place has magic. The sense comes quickly and carries with it a taste of old growth forest, burnt cinnamon, tiny sweet strawberries, creek fresh mint and fog. Now in comfortable repose in your room, you notice the creep of long shadows. It is a hours till dawn, and the sheets will make a poor shield from the darkness to come. This wine has great aging potential. I would advise to decant this wine a good two hours before consumption and serve slightly below room temperature.

Only 8 barrels (200 cases were produced), so this will be gone in no time.

Winemaker Notes: “It’s been hours since another soul has entered the room. You take a deep breath and notice once again the comforting scents of clove, ceylon tea, birch beer and cherry coulis with cocoa. As you prepare to depart, the library door groans open. A figure appears, looking suspicious with an old leather bound book tucked protectively under his arm. In his haste, he doesn’t notice the pressed sprig of lavender that falls to the floor. With an anxious glance over his shoulder he slips behind a shelf of books and disappears.”

Also be sure to check out: 
SANS LIEGE 2015 “THE OFFERING” SANTA BARBARA
SANS LIEGE 2016 “CALL TO ARMS” PROPRIETARY WHITE,  PASO ROBLES
SANS LIEGE 2014 BLENDING KIT

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ZinSation of the Month

Gamba Vineyards is a small, family owned vineyard and winery in Sonoma County. The  110 year old 27 acre Gamba Estate Vineyard parcel rests on the Eastern edge of the beautiful Russian River Valley on gently rolling bench land above the valley floor. Planted to Zinfandel in 1900, the Gamba Estate Vineyard consists primarily of Old Vine Zinfandel, as well as small separate blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon. This organic and dry-farmed 35 acre vineyard is owned by Gus and Paulette Gamba. Guided by a family heritage of six generations of wine grape growing, it is a firm belief at Gamba that wines are made in the vineyard.

Gamba 2016 Zinfandel “Old Vine” Starr Road
GGWC 54.99
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Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2016 Zinfandel Old Vine Starr Road Ranch is deep garnet-purple colored with a nose of baked cherries, raspberry preserves and stewed plums with hints of baking spices, potpourri, licorice and chocolate box plus a waft of dried herbs. Very big, rich and full-bodied, it packs in the berry preserves and spice box flavors with a firm, chewy frame and oodles of tart freshness, finishing long. 440 cases produced.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Starr Road Ranch Old Vine is also gorgeous. Black raspberries, cedary spice, ginger, and exotic flower notes, full body, sweet, present tannin, and a beautiful finish all make for a downright irresistible Zinfandel that delivers serious pleasure.”

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Napa meets Spain & We’ll pay for the plane ticket*…


The Hendry Family is always reinventing itself.  A few years ago they introduced Albariño, and it has created a following. The Albariño grape hails from the area of Galicia, Spain, and were first planted at the Hendry Estate in 2003. Block 2, originally planted in 1997, was grafted over to Albariño from Pinot Gris in 2013. 

Hendry 2017 Albariño “Estate” Napa Valley
GGWC 25.99
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Pale to medium straw color. Mouthwatering citrus, green apple and citrus blossom on the nose. Nectarine and green apple on the palate, tingling lemon-lime acidity on the finish. Tart acid and a full, fruity palate make this wine a delicious pairing with crab, mussels, oysters and other shellfish. Other pairing ideas: grilled shrimp with gazpacho, white pizzas, especially with shrimp, Caesar salad, even sushi. Foods light in weight but high in flavor are always a good match.

Also check out the awesome 2015 Hendry Zinfandel!

(*By the way… Free Plane ticket = Free Ground Shipping)

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96 Point (200 case) Cabernet beats BIG NAMES in Blind Tasting


Our first of the summer blind tasting Cabernet tasting brought together the who is who among great Cabs.  The lineup included:

  • Aloft (95 RP)
  • Vineyard 29 (95 WA)
  • Fait Main Las Piedras (95 WA)
  • Vineyardist (96 WA)
  • Barnett Rattlesnake Vyd (95+ WA)
  • Ramey Pedregal (95+ AG)
  • Ceritas PMR (96 AG)
  • Cliff Lede Scarlet Love (97 WA)
  • Robert Foley (96+ WA)
  • Kamen Kashmir (99 WA)
  • Crown Point (96 WA)


The Winner – Crown Point 2014!!

Made by a Philippe Melka and longtime Harlan assistant Adam Henkel, this team got it right from the get-go.  Saturated garnet in color, the aromatics of this wine point to freshly baked blackberry pie, plum preserves, toasted rye bread and slate. Voluptuous and fullbodied, this 2nd release is built around tannins wrapped in a blanket of glycerin- notably marked with the essences of cassis, graphite, scorched earth, and dark chocolate. Loaded with black and blue fruits, this wine combines finesse and power that swells across the palate in impressive fashion. One for the cellar, it should drink best from 2018-2028… most likely hitting the top of the evolutionary bell curve ten years from vintage date (2024). Very small production.

Crown Point 2014 Cabernet “Estate” Happy Canyon
GGWC 159.99
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Philippe Melka Notes: “The 2014 Crown Point Cabernet Sauvignon undeniably blew me away. It is precisely what we should expect from Roger’s estate vineyard in Happy Canyon. This is an impeccable encapsulation of what he wants this wine to be: great minerality, a marvelous amount of richness and elegance. This wine should drink well and age gracefully for 25+ years.”

96 Points Wine Advocate: “A deep, velvety purple color in the glass, this bottling by proprietor Roger Bower and winemaker Adam Henkel shows dark-chocolate-covered black cherries, fresh blackberry, white pepper, violet oil, port reduction sauce and spice sake on the lavish nose. Firm tannins frame the palate, which carries black currant and roasted lean beef flavors through soy and pepper sauce into a finish of caramel and espresso grinds.”

95 Points Antonio Galloni: “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is gorgeous.  Ripe red cherry, raspberry jam, mocha and espresso infused this supple, flamboyant Cabernet.  Silky and purple, with no hard edges at all, the 2014 hits all the right notes.  Even with all of its natural intensity, it displays a good bit of aromatic freshness and nuance as well.”

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Terroir: Nature & Nurture

Terroir: Nature & Nurture

Terroir is often spoken about as if it’s a fixed construct; unmovable, definitive. It’s as if the terroir of Burgundy, for example, lives off in an ethereal realm, elusive yet sacrosanct; something to represent and uphold at all costs. Carrying this example even further, what defines the terroir of Burgundy’s most coveted sites, after all? Standing on the hillsides there, observing those storied sites, one comes to understand that many of them came into existence not because of their ephemeral terroir, but as the result of man-made choices bound by history, logistics and practicalities.

A king on his dying bed makes an overture of generosity towards a cloister of monks, leaving an inheritance of land, to better secure a place in Heaven, perhaps. Numerous sought-after sites are curiously close to cloisters where the monks needed to rest their weary bodies at night; a practical choice.

Were those monks hundreds of years ago consciously toiling to preserve the terroir of a site, as so many critics and collectors compel winemakers to do today? Certainly not, for that concept did not yet exist. Their approach was more primitive, more sensual. They were striving to create something pleasant, something beautiful.

At some point, they must have noticed that some sites have better drainage than others; that one aspect is more favorable than another; that some soils are more nuanced than others.  They must have also noticed that some monks were more gifted at farming than others. Maybe one was especially good at pruning. Another more talented in the cellar.

It is at this crucial intersection that Nature and Nurture convene.

In my tenth grade Biology class, I recall having an uplifting, hopeful moment when I learned that we while 50% of us is already pre-programmed, if you will, by our DNA, the other 50% is a result of our environment. As a young man eager to forge his own path, that was positively heartening.

Given the fruit of the same special site, 10 winemakers will produce 10 different wines. Intentionality, creative choices, experience, taking risks, the spirit of innovation; all of these variants come to bear upon a singular, finished wine.

Can innovation and creativity exist if they constantly run up against the fixed construct of terroir? Henri Jayer said ‘no stems’. He was adamant on this point and it’s a debate that rages to this day. Does batonnage obscure site? These and other lively discussions remain prevalent today among Burgundians, and that is a good thing. Would that we could allow them this luxury; to innovate and create; to leave their own personal imprimatur upon a site without risking criticisms (from the trade and media alike) that their unique creative excursions betray terroir.

If Burgundy were to disappear tomorrow and they had to start all over again, with no history, no presumptions or hierarchies of greatness, would the re-creation of Burgundy look exactly the same way as it does now?

What would the wines of Burgundy be today if those monks toiling hundreds of years ago were not allowed to innovate? We are quick to applaud a winemaker who hardly intervenes and who adheres to ancient practices. If there is delicacy in their operations, surely we cannot fault winemakers worldwide for evolving. For being transformative.

From Paul Hobbs’ wine blog http://paulhobbs.com


To experience the variance of terroir and the incredible creativity of Napa’s greatest winemakers for yourself, be sure to join us at one of our weekly wine tastings! Or visit http://GoldenGateWineCellars.com to grab a case to try at home! Feel free to give me a call at 415-337-4083 for suggestions on a mixed case for your next gathering or personal collection!