Harlan, a Mascot worth looking at!

Here’s a wine with some amazing lineage produced by Will Harlan heir to the Harlan Empire and son of Bill.  The 2013 Mascot Cabernet is produced from younger vines from the same vineyards used by Harlan, Bond, and Promontory (all stellar Bill Harlan ventures).  The 2013 The Mascot is a multifaceted wine that shows well young and will age beautifully. On the nose you are greeted by black stone fruit and a touch of chocolate. On the palate this youngster offers up a lush and full body that is loaded with more black fruit, bitter chocolate and coffee notes ending with long, gorgeous silky granined tannins.

The Mascot 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 134.99
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Winery Notes: “Having endured two years of drought within the region, vines were no stranger to adversity by the time they saw the dry growing season of 2013. Adversity, however, often reveals strength; and in the case of The Mascot, pedigree. The younger vines of Harlan Estate, BOND, and Promontory bore well-formed clusters with small, dense berries. The juice was concentrated and finely balanced; skins thickened by wind yielded great structure and strength. Consequently, the final blend exhibits an athletic intensity that accelerates across the palate into a long-sustaining finish. Where the 2012 vintage is supple, plush, and expansive, 2013 is dense, deep, and complex—yet they share a vibrant core.”

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Napa’s BEST Cabernet Franc JUST arrived!

Trespass is a small 5 acre all estate property in northwestern St. Helena at the base of Spring Mountain. The wines are hand-crafted by Kirk Venge who has been making wine since he was a little child under the tutelage of his dad Nils Venge (the first 100 point winemaker in the US with his 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet).  Kirk has wowed us with many great wines (Beau Vigne, Macauley, Honeycutt, Igneous, Venge, etc). Nils told me that at pre-school age Kirk knew he was going to be winemaker

Trespass 2016 Cabernet Franc “Estate” St. Helena, Napa Valley
GGWC 89.99
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Mix & match with other Trespass wines

Our friends at Trespass crafted yet another remarkable wine! It is beyond awesome. I would rate this is the best Cabernet Franc in the Napa Valley bar none, but who am I to say. This wine has an amazing dense purple hue and a touch of anise and black currant on the nose. Extraction would make you think it is Syrah, yet this wine is amazingly elegant and offers up a storm of gorgeous, elegant black stone fruit alongside its full-bodied armor. Great balance, with the right amount of fruit and acid. The wine’s finishes with a long silkiness. 125 cases produced.

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Occidental = Kistler 2.0 & FREE SHIPPING


Steve Kistler does not sit still – after selling his interest in his name sake winery (Kistler) he put all his energy in his new Occidental venture and it really shows.  Last week I tasted through the portfolio and was very impressed!

Occidental Pinot Noir, Freestone-Occidental
GGWC 69.99
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The Freestone-Occidental (blend of Bodega Headlands, Occidental Station, and Bodega Ridge vineyards) shares the same winemaking techniques as their other vineyard designated pinot noirs.

The Freestone-Occidental is a vibrant, perfumed wine with a chiseled red-fruit character that is typical of the wines from our Bodega Headlands and Bodega Ridge properties. The  Freestone-Occidental offers a superb balance of primary red fruits and saline elements. It conveys outstanding energy, precision and lift in the mouth and finishes vibrant and long with discreet tannins. Its modest alcohol (14.1%) makes this wine a perfect complement to any meal. It is delicious now and will develop nicely in bottle.

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CALL 415-337-4085 for availability and orders!

94 Point ~ Powerful & Impeccable Chardonnay


The wrath of Juno sent Aeneas wandering the Mediterranean in Vergil’s Aeneid. For the ancient Romans, ira or wrath, was a tool of a god, an unstoppable anger driven by forces greater than man. One can argue that we see such fury in both the might of nature and the passion of art. Wrath appears in the edgy power of Robert Plant’s voice and the raw wail of Eric Clapton’s guitar. It is frozen into Jackson Pollock’s violent splatters of paint. Wrath is in the wall of maritime fog that rolls into the Salinas Valley and the relentless afternoon winds that scream through our grape trellises.

Wrath 2016 Chardonnay “San Saba Vineyard”
GGWC 49.99
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Jeb Dunuck 94 Points: “Light gold-colored, the 2016 Chardonnay San Saba Vineyard has a richer, powerful bouquet of melon and ripe orchard fruits intermixed with white flowers, brioche, and hints of minerality. Clean, pure, and elegant, with a light, medium-bodied, graceful texture, it’s an impeccably balanced, classy Chardonnay to drink over the coming 3-4 years.”

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Flamboyant 97 Point Napa Cab

Turnbull Winery has been on fire as of late (no pun intended – 2017 Napa fires) receiving many 97-100 point ratings.  Winemaker Peter Heitz has been at the helm since 2007.  His is also the owner/winemaker at Shypoke winery in Calistoga.

Turnbull 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Black Label” Napa Valley
GGWC 149.99
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Vinous 97 Points: “A big, huge wine, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label shows the more exotic personality of the year. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, new leather, licorice and sweet spice notes build as this flamboyantly ripe wine shows off its personality. Readers should expect a full throttle, intense wine built on pure power. Blackberry jam, chocolate, spice, new leather and new oak gain volume in this striking, explosive wine from Turnbull.

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The BEST Sauvignon Blanc in the US Bar None is HERE!

Russell Bevan and Victoria De Crescenzo knew they were on to something special way back in the late 90′s when impromptu blind tastings with friends and trips to Napa became a regular part of their life. Over the next several years, they met with and were inspired by some of the greatest winemakers and viticulturists of the time. Robert Foley, Phil Togni, Greg La Follette, and others imparted bits of wisdom and wine lore that shaped their approach even before the first batch of wine was an idea. It was not long before they acquired eight acres of land in the Bennett Valley and with a ton of grapes from the best block in Kal Showket’s vineyard, Bevan Cellars was born.

The Bevan legacy continues to this day and every year continues to impress. Multiple 95-100 point ratings are a testament to the quality, dedication, and attention that they give to each one of their wines.

BEVAN CELLARS 2018 “Rosemary block” BENNETT VALLEY, SONOMA
GGWC 41.99
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This 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. Probably one of the best California Sauv Blancs to date without exception!

Winemaker Notes: “Our 2018 Sauvignon Blanc is pure sunshine in a glass. Tropical notes of fresh pineapple, passionfruit and papaya are present on the palate. It is one of the most lively and refreshing Sauvignon Blancs we have made to date. But (and here is where things get exciting…) she also has significantly more extraction than any of our previous Sauvignons. The resulting wine is incredibly powerful, yet light on her feet at the same time.”

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Learn to Taste by Taking Better Wine Tasting Notes

Learn to Taste
by Taking Better Wine Tasting Notes

Improve your ability to write wine tasting notes with a simple process.
WineFolly.com

Did you know?  Taking better notes improves your ability to read wine ratings and reviews? Ultimately, you can use this knowledge to buy (and drink) better wine.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s learn how to do it right.

Why Taking Notes Makes You Smarter

On the surface, taking notes seems a bit banal. However, the practice builds powerful skills of observation and recollection. Plus, it might actually be good for your brain.

In a related study, Master Sommeliers demonstrated increased brain activity in memory and cognitive function. So, if you’re already sipping wine regularly, why not use it as an opportunity to exercise your brain?

A WINE TASTING NOTE IN FOUR PARTS
1. Look: Observe wine in your glass.
2. Smell: Identify five unique aromas in your wine.
3. Taste: Quantify the traits of acidity, tannin, alcohol level, sweetness, and body.
4. Think: Put it all together and refine your opinion.

Look

Red, white, pink, orange… It seems simple enough! In fact, the color of a wine can tell us a lot about what’s going on inside the glass.

HUE: Take a look at the hue. If it’s a red wine, is it more pinkish or reddish? This simple color observation is often a big clue as to the variety(ies) and climate where the wine was made.

The generally accepted hues for red wines are: Purple, Ruby, Garnet, and Tawny.
White wines use: Straw, Yellow, Gold, and Amber.
Rosé wines use: Pink, Salmon, and Copper.

Next, take a look at the color from the edge to the middle of the glass. How opaque is it? This is the color intensity.

Also, how much does the color change from the rim to the middle? This “rim variation” is often an indicator of age in a wine.

VISCOSITY: Swirl your glass and take a look at how it forms tears (aka “legs”) on the side of the glass. Are they thick, slow-moving tears or fast ones? This tells us the wine is either higher alcohol, higher sweetness, or both. It’s actually a phenomenon called The Gibbs-Marangoni Effect.

CLARITY: Is the wine clear, cloudy, or turbid (cloudy and thick with suspended particles)?

Clarity is a hint towards some winemaking techniques used on the wine, including fining and filtering.

Smell

This step might just be the most important. It allows our brains a chance to develop an aromatic profile of a wine before we taste it.
Wine contains hundreds of different aroma compounds. These compounds provide clues as to what the wine is, where it is from, and how it was made.

Sommeliers refer to some of these aromas as “impact compounds,” because they reveal secrets in the glass!

Here’s what you ca look for, specifically:

  • Fruit, flower, or herb smells that are indicative of the wine or grape variety.
  • Baking spices and vanilla or other aromas that are caused by aging and oak aging.
  • Organic or inorganic earthy smells caused by yeast that often indicate the wine’s regional style.

Do your best to create a profile of individual smells ordered from most obvious to least obvious.

Taste

Now it’s time to taste!

When we taste wine, it’s all about the texture. We sense body, sweetness, acidity, and tannin on our tongues as presence, oiliness, tartness, and astringency. When you taste a wine, focus more on these textures and how they evolve from start to finish. After this is done, you can think about flavors!

Many sommeliers rank a wine’s traits with a ranking of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

  • Body: Does it fill your palate or is it barely there?
  • Sweetness: Many dry wines have a small amount of residual sugar (RS),which we sense as oiliness.
  • Acidity: How tart and sour-tasting a wine is. (Technically, we are sensing the concentration of free hydrogen ions or pH level here).
  • Tannin: The texture of astringency that’s often accompanied by bitterness.
  • Alcohol: The feeling of heat in the back of your throat. (Anything over 15% ABV is high)

Think

Writing your final conclusion in your wine tasting notes gives you a chance to tie it all together.

Here are some things to consider:

  • How did the initial taste compare with the finish?
  • How long did the flavor last on your palate?
  • Was the wine complex or simple?
  • Overall, was it a “yay!” “meh” or “bleh?”

In my experience, communicating with wine drinkers of all kinds, I’ve observed something like a bell curve when it comes to opinions. (I hope to research this with more data in the future!)

In the mean time, this is the general consensus that I’ve observed:

One side of the bell curve prefers fruity, sweet wines with noticeable acidity. (Generally white and sparkling wines).

The middle of the bell curve looks for dry wines with boldness, fruitiness, lush acidity, and a smooth finish. (These are usally red wines).

The other side of the bell curve looks for wines with minerality, tannin, earthiness, and subtlety. (These are all kinds of unique wines).

None of these choices are right or wrong, but they are often in conflict with one another. They also affect how some of us should use wine ratings.

In fact, some wine reviewers (such as Stephen Tanzer and Antonio Galloni) rate wines higher for their structure and minerality, where as others (like Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate) rate wines higher that demonstrate the more optimal fruit/ripeness profiles.

So, where does your palate fit into this picture? (Hint, hint: Take more wine tasting notes to find out!)


Want to flex your tasting muscles? Be sure to join us every Saturday from 1-5 PM! See the full tasting schedule below ore at GoldengateWineCellars.com

4 Barrel, Under $40 White by Ace Thomas Rivers Brown!

First grafted in 2015, Viticulturist Jim Barbour hand-selected budwood from Chappellet and developed a single block on the QTR Estate.  The block consists of disrupted claystone bedrock with cobbles and boulders of volcanic matter.  This rocky and dry soil provides the perfect foundation for a Chenin Blanc with round structure and incredible complexity.

QTR 2017 Chenin Blanc, Estate Howell Mountain
GGWC 37.99 net
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The QTR 2017 Chenin Blanc exhibits beautiful floral aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, and lemon blossoms. The palate compliments the floral aromas with intricate layers of lime zest, lemon, tropical fruit, melon, hints of honeysuckle, and a minerality to round out the finish. While complex and refreshing, this Chenin Blanc’s vibrant acidity and creamy minerality makes for a perfect pairing with Oysters, Halibut or Salmon. ONLY 100 CASES (4 barrels) PRODUCED.

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IMPRESSIVE CABERNET BY 100 POINT WINEMAKER


A STRIKING HILLSIDE PROPERTY, Cornell is located on Spring Mountain, not too far from Togni, Pride and Fisher. In 2013, proprietors Henry and Vanessa Cornell hired winemaker Françoise Peschon to oversee a complete makeover, and create the first estate grown wine from their then 10 year-old vineyard.

Peschon brought in vineyard guru Phil Coturri (Kamen, etc.), who created the plan to redevelop the property and convert the estate to organic farming. The wines are made in the contemporary, classically leaning style that has brought Françoise Peschon so much acclaim at Araujo Estate and Vine Hill Ranch. Quite simply, these are gorgeous mountain Cabernets endowed with real class and pedigree.

Cornell 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, “Estate” – 96 Points
GGWC 154.99
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Anthony Galloni (Vinous) 96 Points: “The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is every bit as impressive as it was last June, when I tasted it just after bottling. Dark, sumptuous and alluring, the 2015 captures all the best qualities of the year. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, licorice, dried flowers and mint are some of the many nuances that flesh out in this decidedly flamboyant Sonoma Cabernet. Even with all of its richness, the 2015 *retains the very classic sense of structure that is such a signature of Françoise Peschon’s wines.”

Winery Notes: “2015 was the last in a series of drought years in California, which may have set the stage for a low yielding vintage. An unusually cool spring, particularly in the mountains, made for uneven berry set, leading to very loose clusters and the smallest harvest since the inception of the vineyard. Fortunately, optimal harvest weather meant that what little crop we had to work with made it to the winery in perfect condition. The mountain immediately begins to reveal its many layers through the rich aromas of red fruit, a mix of dried and fresh herbs and graphite. The barrel influence is a subtle backdrop to the layers of fresh forest floor, wet stone and black currant. Red plum and fresh blackberry fill the mouth leading to the rich and classical structure.The wine’s refined texture and elegant tannins belie its youth. Approachable now, the 2015 Cornell Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon will age with grace and will continue to reveal its layers for many years to come. The wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 7% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc.”

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Thomas Rivers Brown Chardonnay wins blind tasting!

Our tasting group of 14 evaluated, tasted then imbibed some amazing Chardonnays in our most recent meeting.  The lineup included the following:

THE WINNERSENSES “CHARLES HEINTZ” by TRB  with 8 first , 4 second & 2 third place votes!
Second was AUBERT CIX, with 3 first, 6 second and 3 third place votes
Third was DUMOL “ISOBEL” with 2 first, 3 second and 5 third place votes

Senses 2017 Chardonnay “Charles Heintz” Sonoma Coast
GGWC 69.99
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Senses Wines is the dream of three childhood friends. Chris, Max and Myles partnered with celebrity winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, to produce world-class wines from renowned vineyards owned by their families. Since founding, Senses production has grown to include many coveted vineyard sites throughout Sonoma County.

The Senses estate vineyards are located in the West Sonoma Coast region of northern California, specifically in the small town of Occidental where the three founders grew up. Ideal Goldridge soil, healthy, mature vines, warm days balanced with cool nights and a grower who has been working the land since 1982 all contribute to Robert Parker’s assessment of the vineyard as “…one of the great Grand Cru Chardonnay sites in California.

Think golden apple and fresh flowers on the nose and something savory but hard to put a finger on. Rich tropical fruit on the palate is complemented by a delicious concentration of citrus and honey without being sweet. The smooth mouthfeel is balanced by solid acidity that lingers on the finish.

Thomas Rivers Brown (Winemaker) Notes: “The wine is gorgeous – White flowers reach out of the glass like jasmine growing up a trellis and the palate is a smooth yet rich expression of tropical and mineral flavors. The weight and texture of this wine is gracefully balanced by the acidity and what feel like a never-ending finish.”

Also check out this other TRB made Pinot Noir from Senses:
SENSES 2016 PINOT NOIR “DAY ONE” HILLCREST VINEYARDS

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