(Dan) Kosta Brown & Emeril Lagasse’s “New Baby”

The AldenAlli project is a a venture between Top Chef Emeril Lagasse and Dan Kosta.  Add winemaker Shane Finley (Kosta Browne) and you know you have a recipe for success.   The name Alden Alli (wives of Emeril and Dan).

The wine is sourced from the Campbell Ranch and Sun Chase Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and just like Emeril would say: “Bam, in the pan…”

This wine explodes on impact with gorgeous aromas jumping out of the glass.  The wine’s bold palate is loaded with back fruit, cranberries and silky flavors with a oh-so slight whiff of (low) acidity.  The wine finishes the way it start with pizzazz and a silky finish.  A must have to your collection.

AldenAlli 2016 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
GGWC 67.99
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The 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is medium-bodied, offering subtle fruit flavors, bright acidity and structure that sing in intricate harmony. Inviting aromas of firm blackberry, cedar and pitted cherry are accentuated with floral notes. The nuanced palate balances bright cherry, blackberry and pluot fruits with hints of savory fennel fronds and sea mist.

Winemaker Notes: “A cuveé of three distinct coastal vineyards, the 2016 AldenAlli Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir offers more than the sum of its parts. A favorably long, unhurried growing season in 2016 allowed elongated flavors to develop naturally on the vine. Our foremost goal was to create a pristine expression of Sonoma Coast elegance and this leisurely vintage.”

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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 winemaking reigns at the winery.

Hourglass 2016 Merlot “Blueline” Napa Valley
GGWC 79.99
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Winemaker Notes: “The ashen soils of the upper bench of the estate, where Merlot is planted, are not typical of Merlot vineyards.  Almost completely devoid of clay (very common for Merlot vineyards), these porous, mineral rich, nutrient poor soils yield incredible drainage leading to springtime water deficits, which result in a very small berry size. Smaller berries yield greater concentration/richness in the wines and firmer tannins. The resulting soils also impart a noticeable minerality, creating greater vibrancy to bring the density and richness alive.”

Owners Notes: The 2016 Blueline Estate Merlot follows the defining thread of the vintage—supreme balance. The signature aromatics of mandarin orange peel and Asian 5 spice, are interlaced with a mineral graphite and a band of high tone rose petal. As Tony notes, “The 2016 is a hybrid of the ’12 and ’13 vintages. The bright aromatics and red fruits of ’12, and the darker fruit  and structural elements of ’13.” The texture has a firm spine with a tight structural core, surrounded with a layer of silky fruit. Crème de cassis intermingles with dark sour cherry and an intriguing note of Asian hoisin. Deep and rich, yet alive with energy. A very complex layering of delicious fruit, wired with bright natural acidity and vibrant minerality. The finish is long and expansive. Amazingly approachable now, but it has the tannin and structural stuffing to age gracefully for a decade, or more.”

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Petaluma Gap Wines ~ Wildly Flavorful

Petaluma Gap Wines ~ Wildly Flavorful

By the famed viticulture expert Dr. Mark Greenspan
in a Petaluma Gap Newsletter


Dr. Mark Greenspan
Photo borrowed from his Advanced Viticulture Website

According to viticulturist Mark Greenspan in this Wine Business Monthly article, “Wind is a significant factor in many regions [including] the Petaluma Gap of Sonoma County… We see thicker skins and more intense color in Pinot Noir vines grown in the Petaluma Gap relative to the neighboring Russian River Valley… I like to put a positive spin on the windy climate effect. One could argue that wind conveys an element of terroir to a region. But, from a grower’s perspective, wind sucks.”

As for thicker skins, because I’m from Maine and have picked tons (maybe not that many) of wild Maine Blueberries, along the coast line… Think Maine blueberries. They, too, grow in wild, less-nitrogen soils, along the coastline. The berries are so tiny, and they’re so flavorfully intense… Quality over quantity. Along any coast line, the plants are very hardy, because they’ve adapted to that chilly terroir, otherwise they won’t survive.

Now, equate that with Sebastopol’s climate as it equates to the Pacific Ocean, and how that factors into the grape berries that are going to become wine… Let’s just say, you’ve got the beginnings of some very aromatic and flavorful wines. Whites are a natural variety, in this cooler climates. Think about wines from Northern Europe, and Italian Wines along the Adriatic Sea in places like the Marche region. Red wines have to be carefully monitored, because they need a modicum of heat to ripen fully, and when they do… Ooo lala… Polished, restrained, and also quite tasty.

Petaluma Wind Gap

I attended a Petaluma Gap wines tasting a while ago, hosted by the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. I was very impressed with some of the wines, especially those grown on location and made in small lots, bottling with their own winery name and AVA listed.

There are some big name wine companies, buying grapes from this region, too. Names you’d easily recognize, buying grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap area, but they’re not all putting the American Viticultural Area (AVA) on that wine’s labels… yet.

How the wine industry typically works, among the old guard: they aren’t going to help build the obscure regions. It’s like my grandfather taught me, when we were picking Maine blueberries: “Do not make a sound when we’re picking. Someone will know we’re here, will see the blueberries, and now we have competition.”

I’m going to list some of the wines I tasted during that visit, most especially those located in the Petaluma Gap AVA

It all Began In a Charming Little School House

When I drove to the invite’s locations, it, like Petaluma Gap’s wines, was well hidden. I arrived a bit late, because I had zipped right by the Green String Farm location on Adobe Road. As I traveled farther and farther away, instinct said, “turn around.” In my mind I had no idea how small this tasting was going to be. I thought I could just slink in. I wondered if it was an optical illusion, “Does this tiny house go much further back?”

As I entered the school house, I realized, no, there were just three of us writers, and an uber selection of wines for us to taste. We sat around a couple of tables, set for my wine writer colleagues Linda Murphy (Writer for – among others – Decanter Magazine, and co-author, with Jancis Robinson MW, of “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of United States) and Deborah Parker Wong (Wine Educator and the global wine editor for SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, and Clever Root magazines).

The tasting was organized by Cheryl Quist, the executive Director of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. We were also joined by Erica Stancliff, VP of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers and Charene Beltramo (our host from Cline Cellars).

So much time and energy went into setting up this tasting, just for the three of us, I was so humbled. My hat is off to all of the brands and the wines that were submitted. It’s worth mentioning all of them. DeLoach Vineyards slipped in right at the end, so I’m mentioning here, as an FYI.

Lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, as one would expect. And now that Syrah is considered to also be a perfect cool climate wine, yes, we tasted a rosé of Syrah, and a few other Syrahs. But then, there were a couple of Italian wines in the mix. Tasting them I thought, “this what Syrah wants to be… A Syrah’s Syrah….

Enriquez Estate Wines Tempranillo (a Spanish grape), I wrote this one as being really lovely. It had delicious strength, more than the Pinots and Syrah. It stood out with great expression. Bring on the castanets.

McEvoy Ranch‘s Montepulciano (a Tuscan grape), I very much appreciate those who march to their own drummer, and this wine was that kind of a segue from the Pinots; however, my notes stated: This one is really light and lively with cherry and berry flavors. It was so completely refreshing: yes, please, I’m all in.

Have had quite a bit of time between that tasting, thinking about it, and right now. Also done a lot of visiting these places via the Web. Yes, I’ve convinced myself to go take a day and visit locations, not only for the wines, but also for the vistas. Let’s just say,

If I’m coming from the Bay Area to the north, I would be truly remiss if I didn’t get off the freeway in Petaluma. This is such a gorgeous rural area, just after the hustle and bustle of quite a few “down towns” headed north. The Petaluma Gap AVA is perfect for city crazed people just needing a “get me to the county and make sure the vistas will knock my socks off right now” kinda place. It’s Zen, it’s what we hope the just relaxin’  weekend will deliver… including wine. Are you kidding me?

And, if the hustle and bustle of other wine country locations north of the bay have you a bit dazed, I’m going right back to the Petaluma Gap. It has backroads less traveled, filled with charm and down home people… and their Burgundian-style wines.

These are the wineries with Petaluma Gap grapes in the bottle. Check them out, when you’re looking for a new adventure!

Here are some Petaluma Gap suggestions:

Update… Cult Wine tasting… “THE” RESULTS … STUNNING!

Last week Saturday, February 16, a group of about 30 people eagerly lined up to taste a selection of some of the most sought after California “Cult” Wines.

We tasted the following “Cult” Wines:

The first five were revealed immediately… we did have our “Brown Bag Surprise”  –  REWA 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON ESTATE, COOMBSVILLE NAPA VALLEY  made by “Cult” Winemaker extraordinaire Celia Welch.

The score card:


A Statement of sorts… Wine #1 and # 2 were the least expensive out of the bunch, and the group all agreed – the best!  I have a little of both in stock if you want to order some!

This was the fourth Cult Tasting we’ve done in our store. Because of the success next year we might need to turn to a larger venue, as I cannot accommodate more people in my tasting room. Stay tuned.

A humbled,

Frank Melis
Your Patron Saint of Tannins

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Exotic Central Coast Pinot

Do-it-yourself Winemaker Tyler Russell earned his winemaking skills working at Paso Robles wineries including Justin, Zenaida and Calcarous. He produced his first wines under the Nelle label in 2008. In 2014, Russell joined forces with business partner David Taylor, a technology entrepreneur, to create Tyler David Wine Works, continuing the Nelle label and adding the Cordant Winery label.

The Wine was sourced from the great Radian (Dragonette, etc), Kessler-Haak and Escolle vineyards

Cordant 2015 Pinot Noir, Central Coast
GGWC 45.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more!
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Robert Parker 94 Points: “The 2015 Pinot Noir Central Coast is a beauty, bursting from the glass with an expressive nose of wild berry fruit, exotic spice, sweet soil and a subtle framing of new oak (from Tonnellerie Cavin). On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, with a lovely core of pure fruit, velvety tannins and a sapid, saline finish. It’s a bright and generous Pinot Noir that should be well worth following for the better part of a decade.”

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This might be one of the very best Cabernets to come from Knight’s Valley (even better than Peter Michael, really!)  The venture is owned by Norma Hunt (wife of the late Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt – who pretty much invented the Super Bowl).  This gorgeous property is well-situated, and when you bring in the Quarterback – Wide Receiver duo of wine (Philippe Melka and Jim Barbour), you can only achieve one thing – SUPERBOWL-like fame with the accompanying quality.

Perfect Season 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Knight’s Valley
Retail 154.99
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
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Only 250 cases of the PERFECT SEASON Cabernet were produced, so it won’t be around for a long time.  This 100% Estate Grown Cabernet is well-crafted and offers up amazing aromas of red and black stone fruits, a hint of chocolate and a whiff of spice cabinet as I call it.  Amazing, voluptuous body that is loaded with intense concentrated, yet very well-manicured and balanced fruit.  More black stone and espresso / mocha on the mid-palate merging into a long lasting lingering finish of elegant tannins.  A MUST HAVE!

Robert Parker 97 Points: “Aged in 80% new French oak barrels for 18 months, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is opaque purple-black in color and sings of crème de cassis, blueberry compote, mulberries and plum pudding with touches of baking spices, mocha, black soil, Sichuan pepper and hoisin plus a hint of cedar chest. Full-bodied, rich, plush and seductive in the mouth, the palate is packed with black and blue fruit layers, finishing very long. 250 cases produced.”

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Jason Kesner, winemaker extraordinaire at Kistler created yet another amazing wine. Jason was the longtime vineyard manager at Hudson, when in 2002 he produced 25 cases of his first wine for some of the top restaurants like French Laundry, Gary Danko and Golden Gate Wine Cellars! The following year he produced a massive 75 cases, and the rest as they say is history. Moreover, Jason has brought Kistler to new heights as well, where he has been in charge of winemaking since 2012.  The KESNER CHARDONNAYS are on the “Highly Recommended List” at the French Laundry for over 10+ years straight!

Kesner Chardonnay 2016 “Rockbreak” Sonoma Coast
GGWC 62.99
FREE SHIPPING on six or more
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“There’s always a compelling juxtaposition in this wine, between its depth and the liveliness of the natural acids. With the 2016 that inherent tension is in spades. Elevated tones of lightly grilled Meyer lemons, Verbana, green orchard fruit flesh, fresh crème and struck flint. A luxurious mouthfeel that at very first blush belies the verve of the natural acids. Then they take over and thread through the finish, which lasts, and lasts. Intriguing. Fulfilling. Complete. Native fermentation in barrel, natural acids, all used Francois Frères cooperage. Sur lie 14 months.”

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President’s day sale

No matter what your political persuasion, there is one thing that is for certain.
President’s day is a wonderful excuse to have a sale!

So, in honor of that great American tradition, we are excited to offer
10% OFF
on our entire inventory,

Just use the special discount code
during checkout.


The French say that the ‘crazy’ English invented the fizzy wine…

The French say that the ‘crazy’ English invented the fizzy wine…

By David Chazan, The Telegraph

The head of one of France’s most prestigious Champagne houses has weighed in to the long-running debate about the origin of the sparkling wine by saying that “it was invented by the English”.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, head of the illustrious family-owned producer, Taittinger Champagne, made the comment in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper.

“I love England, it’s a big market for bubbles. They love Champagne,” said Mr Taittinger, 65, an unabashed anglophile.

“They created Champagne because of a mistake. Benedictine monks were supplying them with still wines from Champagne, red and white wines… The English left these inexpensive still white wines on the London docks and the wines got cold so they started undergoing a second fermentation, causing them to become carbonated.”

“Like all great mistakes, it led to a great invention.”

Mr Taittinger added: “As the English have a little ‘crazy’ side, they invented the whole thing, the playful side… They invented the consumption of champagne, as well as clarets from Bordeaux, Burgundy, cognac, in short, everything that’s made the reputation of France in the world.”

According to popular belief, sparkling Champagne was invented by a monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, in the 17th century. In fact, he helped to develop still wines from the Champagne region.

It was an English physician, Christopher Merret, who first described the process of adding sugar to a wine to carbonate it by creating a second fermentation.

He documented what is now known as the “méthode champenoise” in a scientific paper in 1662, although he did not claim to have invented it.
Fizzy white wine only became the distinctive wine of the Champagne region much later, in the 19th century.

The first sparkling champagne is believed to have been created accidentally.

The high pressure in bottles of champagne wine often caused them to explode, or the corks to pop, which led to it being dubbed “the devil’s wine”.
Initially, the presence of bubbles was seen as a mistake, but drinkers gradually came to appreciate them. The “muselet”, the wire cage to prevent the cork from popping, was invented in the 19th century.

No Matter who invented it… here are some Bubbly Suggestions:

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Classic 95 Point Rated Chardonnay

Jeff Nelson (owner) has been in the wine business for the past 20+ years, working for some of the top Champagne and Burgundy houses. With the name Liquid Farmon Jeff’s mind for many years, it was the catalyst in 2009 for starting the project with the helping guidance of Brandon Sparks-Gillis of Dragonette Cellars.

Liquid Farm 2016 Chardonnay “La Hermana” Santa Maria Valley
GGWC 44.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
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Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “The 2016 Chardonnay La Hermana offers a slightly more angular profile, yet also has more density and depth. Stone fruits, toasted nuts, crushed rocks, and brioche notes all emerge from the glass and it’s beautifully balanced, has bright acidity, and a great finish. It’s a beautiful, classic Chardonnay that will age gracefully.”

Winery Notes: “She is the first “sister” to our SRH Chardonnays, from the neighboring Santa Maria Valley. Bien Nacido Vineyard, Solomon Hills, and Dierberg’s Santa Maria Valley vineyards are all represented in this wine. 100% neutral barrel fermentation and aging. 10 months in barrel.   The PROFILE: fresh linen, zesty minerality, marzipan, refreshing herbs & flowers, taut, polished. This bottling exhibits a bit more tropical fruit than its SRH counterparts and serves as our “All-Purpose” Chardonnay.”

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