You must be kidding me… DuMOL Cabernet?

 
DuMOL has been synonymous  with great Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.  As you might (not) know, Andy Smith (winemaker and partner) made the wines at Larkmead in the Napa Valley for years.  That said, after 20+ vintages, DuMOL decided to add some Cabernet to its portfolio.

The 2016 Cabernet is a blend of some well-known and highly regarded Napa Valley vineyards – Meteor (59%), True Dog Knoll (30%)  and the balance Ballard on Spring Mountain.  The 2016 Cabernet is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Verdot.

DuMOL 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 104.99
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A ripe, friendly style, with a creamy-textured core of cassis and cherry preserve flavors underscored by anise and apple wood notes that stay nicely melded with the fruit on the finish. 

Winemaker Notes: “With its harmonious layers and textures, this wine reminds me of the 2012 Napa Valley vintage. Dark, inky and opaque, it presents aromas of plum, violets and graphite. Beautiful fruit cascades almost immediately to more savory flavors: crushed rock dustiness, cocoa and cedar. A good, firm mineral spine runs through to the long, bittersweet finish. Ever-evolving in the glass, this wine is poised now and will age beautifully over the next 10+ years.”  

Also check out the latest DuMOL “Designated” Pinots, Chardonnays & Syrah:
DUMOL 2017 CHARDONNAY CHARLES HEINTZ "ISOBEL" SONOMA COAST – 97 POINTS
DUMOL 2017 CHARDONNAY “CHLOE” RITCHIE VINEYARD ~ 95 POINTS
DUMOL 2017 PINOT NOIR ESTATE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY 95 POINTS
DUMOL 2017 PINOT NOIR JENTOFT VINEYARD "RYAN" RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY – 97 POINTS
DUMOL 2017 SYRAH "EDDIE'S PATCH" – 96 POINTS

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Hedonistic, 97 Point Pinot Noir & “GRATIS” Shipping

“Inheriting an unbroken string of success — dating back to 2011 — the 2017 “Bastard Tongue” arrives fully-formed and ready to impress. Always a blend from multiple Pinot Noir vineyards, this iteration of “BT” was selected from three distinct sites, each making their own unique contribution of Sonoma County terroir to the wine’s character. Exploding forth on a tidal wave of high-toned, intense red and black fruits, this is a Pinot Noir that no stemware can contain. The palate’s profound depth is balanced by an inherent freshness, allowing the wine to crackle with brambly energy, while sustained by bass notes of underbrush, black tea, pie spice and bakers chocolate. A formidable rendition of “Bastard Tongue”, and deserving successor to its line.” ~Justin Harmon, Argot Winemaker

Argot 2017 “Bastard Tongue” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
GGWC 84.99
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The Bastard Tongue, a blend of Swan, Pommard and Dijon 115 clones, offers up dark raspberry, strawberry and cherry notes that give the wine a dark-red-fruit character, but there are also loamy soil undertones, underbrush, spice box and a rich, medium to full-bodied, fleshy mouthfeel. This is a complex Pinot Noir to drink now and over the next decade.

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “The Bastard Tongue Pinot Noir from Justin Harmon is thrilling stuff that reminds me of some old-school Kistler wines. Smoking notes of black raspberries, dried flowers, incense, and forest floor notes all emerge from this deep, rich, layered effort that has fabulous complexity, a hedonistic texture, and impeccable balance. It’s a rock star of a Sonoma County Pinot Noir that delivers the goods. Drink it any time over the coming 8-10 years.”

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An UNDER $70 Napa Cab that will WAW (WHAT A WINE) YOU!

Benoit Touquette might no longer be the #1 undiscovered talent in Napa. Garnering great reviews with Realm, Hartwell and his ownb Fait-Main label.

He was Andy Erickson’s right hand man, at Screaming Eagle producing many 98-100 point wines! Benoit is also the protégé of the world’s top consulting winemaker Michel Rolland.  All three were at the helm of Ovid producing their wines for some years. His “Fait-Main” label, which translates to “Hand-Crafted” is a small case production Cabernet  project.  I’d say that a new star is born!

Fait-Main 2017 Cabernet “Teeter-Totter” Napa Valley
GGWC 69.99
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The 2017 Fait-Main “Teeter Totter” Cabernet Sauvignon Blend with its opaque ruby/purple-color exhibits tons of fruit on the nose: crème de cassis, blackcurrants and blackberries intermixed with notes of baking spices, lavender, graphite and licorice. It is big, bold and full-bodied, round and juicy loaded with black stone fruit, a touch of cigar spice and a hint of figs on the long, silky finish.  This is a wine that could be drunk now or over the next decade.  Limited production!

Winery Notes: “The Teeter Totter Cabernet Sauvignon as it will easily compete with wine that costs 3-4 times its going rate. Made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from throughout the valley, this beauty boasts a saturated purple color as well as a classic bouquet of crème de cassis, licorice, toasted spices, and tobacco. Deep, full-bodied, and powerful, it still has the class and purity of the 2016 vintage front and center. It’s a no-brainer to enjoy over the coming decade.

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DUMOL 2017 DESIGNATED VINEYARD RELEASES JUST ARRIVED!

Time flies, as this is the 22nd  release of DUMOL!  I remember meeting Kerry Murphy way back when he started DuMOL and tasting through the first bottles of what has now turned into a real success story.  The “Designated” releases are always something special, and this year is no different.  Andy Smith rolled up his sleeves and put together an amazing selection of limited production wines.

With still lower than normal production levels this vintage will sell out in no time! The 2017 DuMol releases are turning out to be quite spectacular! I would say that several of these may the best ever from this winery. Look for some rave reviews from the wine critics! As you know DuMOL is always in high demand, you can bet that this means the allocation will sell out quickly.

DuMOL 2017 Pinot Noir “Ryan” Jentoft Vineyard ~ 97 Points
GGWC 94.99
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Mix & match OK with other DuMOL wines

Vinous 97 Points: “The 2017 Pinot Noir Ryan Jentoft Vineyard is a stunner. Sweet, rich and explosive, the 2017 boasts striking inner perfume and fabulous balance. Sweet purplish berry fruit, lavender, spice and mint all lift from the glass in this vivid, exceptionally beautiful Pinot Noir. All the elements fall into place.”

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “From a Russian River Valley site planted in 2007, the 2017 Pinot Noir Jentoft Vineyard Ryan is a selection of Swan and Calera clones and sees 15 months in 45% new French oak. This brilliant wine knocks it out of the park with its complex bouquet of darker fruits, smoked earth, and spice. Medium to full-bodied, incredibly layered and multi-dimensional on the palate, it’s a complete, flawless balanced, incredibly impressive wine that will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and cruise over the following decade. This lineup is stacked with terrific wines, but this is one of the standouts.”

Winemaker Notes: “The wine opens with a sense of tiny dark intense wild berries, tart and explosive, pine needle freshness and hints of cedar amplifying the aromas. The palate is sappy, dark and elevated with Rainier cherry, cassis and huckleberry fruits. There’s laser-like intensity to the wine’s driving flavors as they expand along the dry, firm palate, exotic floral, gravelly nuances extending the lingering finish. No need to decant. Drink between 2020 and 2027.”

DuMOL 2017 Chardonnay “Chloe” Ritchie Vineyard ~ 95 Points
GGWC 74.99
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Mix & match OK with other DuMOL wines

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2017 Chardonnay Chloe Ritchie Vineyard is another super-impressive wine in this range. Creamy and voluptuous in the glass, with lifted aromatics, the 2017 has so much to offer. Today, it is remarkably complete for such a young wine. Yellow orchard fruit and lifted floral notes add shades of nuance. The wine’s total sense of poise is remarkable.”

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “Lemon curd, chamomile, orange blossom, and a touch of tropical fruit emerge from the 2017 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Chloe, an exotic, full-bodied effort that offers a singular character. Upfront and with a big, mouth-filling texture, it shows a terrific sense of salinity and minerality on the finish and shows a more Burgundian side to this Grand Cru site.”

Winemaker Notes: “The wine shows aromas of orange blossom, mixed stone fruits and honeysuckle. Thyme leaf, wet stone and almond paste notes lend complexity. The palate is immediately broad and mouth-filling with tangerine oil and orange sherbet flavors. The wine’s center is rich in extract—deep and almost chewy. It finishes with mineral signatures and a lingering citrus zest note.”

DuMOL 2017 Chardonnay “Isobel” Charles Heitz Vineyard ~ 95 Points
GGWC 74.99
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Mix & match OK with other DuMOL wines

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2017 Chardonnay Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard beautifully expresses the personality of the vintage in its rich, viscous feel. White flowers, mint, chalk, white pepper and chamomile all grace this vivid, pretty layered Chardonnay. I can’t wait to taste it from bottle next year.”

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “I loved the 2017 Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard Isobel, one of the standouts in the lineup. Named after winemaker Andy Smith’s daughter and from a site far out on the Sonoma Coast, it has a beautifully rich, layered, textured style as well as impressive notes of white peach, white flowers, and honeysuckle. With plenty of fruit, an awesome texture, great balance, and a singular character, it will be better in another year and I suspect will keep for upwards of a decade.”

Winemaker Notes: “Pungent lemon curd, honeycomb and ginger aromas open the wine as lemon verbena and white flower blossom notes add intrigue. The oily glycerol intensity is immediate on the palate with grapefruit, lemongrass and a hint of tropical fruit leading to a round and full mid-palate before saline oyster shell acidity takes hold. The exotic tangy citrus oil finish is mouthwatering and long.”

DuMOL 2017 Pinot Noir “The Estate” Vineyard  ~  95 Points
GGWC 99.99
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Mix & match OK with other DuMOL wines

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2017 Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard is powerful and also very tightly wound. In fact, the Estate is the least expressive of these Pinots today. Black cherry, lavender, spice, menthol, licorice and dried herbs open up, but only with great reluctance. The tannins remain forbidding at this stage, but it is very early days here.”

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “The 2017 Pinot Noir DuMol Estate Vineyard is more earthy and savory, with a concentrated, foursquare style that’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring. Notes of black cherries, bouquet garni, earth, and chocolate all define the bouquet, and it has building tannins, a great mid-palate, and impressive length.”

Winemaker Notes: “In its youth, the wine is dominated by spicy red fruits and complex savory herbal notes: red currant and underbrush elements. As the wine ages, its inherent dark character begins to evolve and take center stage: black raspberry and dark cherry with woodsy terroir signatures. In whichever phase of development you catch the wine, it always delivers an elevated site signature, the taste of the place, and that’s the highest calling of any great vineyard.”

DuMOL 2017 Syrah “Eddie’s Patch” ~ 96 Points
GGWC 94.99
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Mix & match OK with other DuMOL wines

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: I also loved the 2017 Syrah Eddie’s Patch, which has more of a Côte Rôtie vibe in its spring flowers, black raspberries, and dried earth-like aromas and flavors. Coming from pure volcanic soils and brought up 40% new oak, it’s medium to full-bodied, has lots of tannins, terrific fruit, and a seamless texture. It’s certainly impressive today yet will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for 10-15 years.”

Winemaker Notes: “Deep inky aromas of boysenberry and black cherry meld with crushed stone and cracked black pepper. Red and black wild mountain berries are intense and vibrant while an edge of game and rosemary adds nuance. The silky mouthfeel reveals deep succulence and broad supple tannins, aromatic and finesse-driven through the long, detailed finish. Drink between 2020 and 2030 and gently decant for an hour in its youth.  50% Greywacke & 50% Timbervine.”

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Value & Quality in a bottle

I just received three new Walter Hansel (2017) wines, all of them received a 94 Point rating!

Walter Hansel has been synonymous with great quality at a great price!  Year after year these wines impress me and my clientele alike.  The first vines were planted in 1978 just a up the block from Kistler!  The first vintage they produced 3 barrels of Pinot Noir and 10 barrels of Chardonnay, and the rest as they say, is history!  Stephen Hansel (Walter’s son) had one of the best winemakers as his tutor (Tom Rochiolli) so it is no surprise that they are still putting out great wines decades later.  Year after year this winery produces amazing “Dollar Cost Average” under priced over delivered in quality wines!

Walter Hansel 2017 North Slope Pinot Noir
$44.99
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Vinous 94 Points: “The 2017 Pinot Noir The North Slope Vineyard is one of the more voluptuous, racy wines in this range. Ample and creamy, with tremendous resonance, the 2017 has a lot to offer. Plush fruit and silky tannins add to the wine’s considerable immediacy and overall appeal.”

Walter Hansel 2017 Estate Pinot Noir
$39.99
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The 2017 Pinot Noir Estate has an extra gear to it because of the tiny yields. It exhibits loads of rich black raspberry and blackcurrant fruit, a lush, sweet, spicy mouthfeel with full-bodied, intense concentration and a long finish that has energy from the vibrant acidity. Drink it over the next decade or more. Dark ruby/purple, the wine offers plenty of spring flower garden notes intermixed with blueberry and blackcurrant fruit. It is rich, textured, builds incrementally on the palate and finishes after a good 35-40+ seconds. This is a beauty and should drink well up to a decade or more.

Vinous 94 Points: “The 2017 Pinot Noir The Estate Vineyard offers an intriguing combination of the raciness of the vintage, but with plenty of underlying structure and more than enough freshness to keep things in balance. Dark cherry, plum, spice and floral notes are all nicely delineated in this vibrant, super-expressive Pinot Noir from Hansel. I really like the energy here.”

Walter Hansel 2017 Estate Chardonnay
$27.99
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The 2017 Walter Hansel “Estate” Chardonnay is pretty, understated and polished, with all of the signatures that make these wines distinctive.  Medium to full in body and very gracious, with lovely aromatic lift and balanced from start to finish.  The grapes from the estate part that was planted between 1976 and 1988 and is a blend of Dijon Clones 95 & 97 and a Hanzell clone.

Vinous 94 Points:  “The 2017 Chardonnay The Estate Vineyard is fabulous, and also one of the very finest values in California wine. In 2017, I am especially impressed by the wine’s energy and tension, both of which are remarkable given the hot, dry conditions that marked so much of the year. Dried apricot, flowers and mint are all nicely delineated in this vibrant, super-expressive Chardonnay from Hansel.”

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Blind Tasting Winner (95 Points)

In a recent blind  Sauvignon Blanc tasting a small Santa Barbara winery surprised us against some big guns!

The Line-up:

  • Jonata “Flor” 95 Points
  • Peter Michael “l’Apres Midi” 94 Points
  • Kamen 94 Points
  • Spottswoode “Mary’s Block” 95 Points
  • Bevan “Dry Stack” 95 Points
  • Arkenstone 94 Points
  • Dragonette “Vogelzang” 95 Points

The Winner among our 15 tasters – Dragonette with 9 First, 3 Second and 3 Third place votes
Second was Spottswoode with 3 First, 5 Second and 3 Third place votes
Third was Peter Michael with 3 First, 2 Second and 2 Third place votes

Dragonette 2017 Sauvignon Blanc “Vogelzang” Santa Barbara
GGWC 53.99
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Vogelzang is situated on a gently sloping bed of well drained, gravelly loam soil with serpentinite in the heart of Happy Canyon. We’ve leased several acres here for a decade now, taking full responsibility for pruning choices, canopy and crop management and deficit-irrigation strategies. Fruit from Vogelzang is of the highest possible quality, meticulously farmed for low yields. We harvest these blocks in multiple passes to ensure ideal ripeness levels. The wine is immediately whole cluster pressed, briefly settled and then transferred to 90% French oak barrels (228L, 350L, 500L, 276L “cigars”(10% new) and 10% stainless steel for fermentation and aging. After one year in barrels, the wine is racked to tank where it harmonized for approximately 6 months before bottling.

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Vogelzang Vineyard is the most aromatically intense and tropical of the Dragonette Sauvignon Blancs, which is attributable to the 30% Sauvignon Musque in the blend. Yellow orchard fruit, dried flowers, mint and apricot add to the wine’s extroverted personality. This is such a gorgeous, inviting wine.”

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The Wine “Catch” of the Day ~ FREE SHIPPING INCLUDED

Winemaker Phil Titus (Chappellet etal) is the new winemaker at the helm, and it seems like Coho is getting an extra shot in the arm with this new addition. Coho will continue to source from the same vineyards, but with adding Phil Titus, they might have gone from Coach to First Class!

Coho 2016 Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch Carneros Napa Valley
GGWC 44.99
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This 2016 Coho comes three distinct Dijon clones of Pinot Noir on Stanly Ranch in Los Carneros. Ripe aromas of black cherry, wild berry and enticing ripe plum aromas mingle with floral violet scents with a toasted almond and vanilla-infused bouquet. Rich and mouth-filling on entry, where the opulent texture reveals layered black cherry, plum and red currant flavors and fine-grained tannins which builds finesse on the elegant finish. Only 370 six-pack cases produced.

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Isn’t it time to embrace Merlot again?

Isn’t it time to embrace Merlot again?

By Bob Highfill
RecordNet.com

Actor Paul Giamatti appeared as a guest on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and admitted something surprising.  “I don’t know (bleep!) about wine,” Giamatti said. “I don’t know jack (bleep!) about wine.”  He could have fooled me and, apparently, many others.

Giamatti’s performance as an angst-ridden, wine-obsessed divorcé, Miles Raymond, in the movie “Sideways,” in which he emphatically exclaimed detest for Merlot and in a later scene exalted the beauty and mystery of Pinot noir, was so convincing, sales of both varieties were impacted.

According to an article by National Public Radio’s Kristen Hartke, Steven Cuellar, an economics professor at California State University, Sonoma, found sales of Merlot declined 2 percent from January 2005 (roughly three months after “Sideways” was released) through 2008, while Pinot noir increased 16 percent. In the same article, industry analyst Gabriel Froymovich of Vineyard Financial Associates said Pinot noir production in California has increased some 170 percent since “Sideways.”

The phenomenon known as the “Sideways Effect” originated from a talented actor who in real life knows next to nothing about wine. Go figure.

“Boy, I’ve never seen a wine take a tank like Merlot did because of a movie,” said Dave Dart, owner of D’art Wines in Lodi. “And do you know why (Miles) wouldn’t drink Merlot in the movie? It says it in the book only. He doesn’t drink Merlot because that was his ex-wife’s favorite wine.”

If only that tidbit had been in the movie, maybe Merlot wouldn’t have suffered a fall from grace.

Isn’t it time to shrug off the “Sideways Effect” and embrace Merlot again? There’s no better time to hop back on the bandwagon with the fall season upon us. Need convincing?

Consider the following:

  • Merlot is one of the six noble grape varieties, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon blanc, and is a major player in some of the world’s most renowned wines.
  • Merlot has black cherry, raspberry and plum flavors and is less austere than Cabernet Sauvignon, its main partner, along with Cabernet Franc, in the great blends of Bordeaux.
  • Merlot is a terrific entry-point red wine and versatile with food, as it pairs beautifully with fall dishes, such as mushroom risotto, stews, roasted meats and even spaghetti and meatballs.

There is a movement afoot to help Merlot regain respect and market share. This month, an online social media group, #MerlotMe, is encouraging Merlot lovers to profess their affection to the world. Some 100 wineries, mostly in Napa, have partnered in the effort.

Paul Marsh, certified sommelier and former owner of Mile Wine Co. in Stockton, doesn’t need convincing. He’s a big-time Merlot fan and had been long before Virginia Madsen, who also starred in “Sideways,” visited Mile Wine Co. back in the day.

“Big, plush, juicy, it’s ‘Jessica Rabbit’ in a glass,” said Marsh, referring to the character in the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” “I love Merlot. It’s like the skinny black dress and blue blazer, it works no matter what.”

Dart began working with Merlot because he wanted to craft a Bordeaux blend. But each time he tried, it didn’t quite work, so he has bottled standalone Merlots from the 2017 vintage, available now, and 2018, which has yet to be released. To have some fun with his guests in the tasting room, Dart obscures the identity of his Merlot on the menu with the letter “M” followed by symbols.

“We normally pour it in a carafe and we pour it without telling people what it is until after they’ve had it,” he said. “And then they go, ‘Oh, I didn’t think I liked Merlot.’
“No, you just didn’t like the movie.”

Here are a few stunning Merlot Suggestions:
1.    Paloma
2.    Trespass
3.    Switchback Ridge
4.    Ilaria
5.    Arietta
6.    Coho
7.    Paradigm
8.    Leonetti

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How, When, and Why It’s Okay to Send Back a Bottle of Wine

How, When, and Why
It’s Okay to Send Back a Bottle of Wine

By Zach Geballe
VinePair.com

Outside of being handed the check, few moments at a restaurant are more daunting than immediately after a sommelier or server pours the wine you’ve ordered and stands there expectantly, awaiting your judgment. The vast majority of patrons will accept it whether they like the wine or not, perhaps scared of looking silly or getting drawn into an uncomfortable conversation.

It’s an understandable impulse, but it puts both drinkers and conscientious wine professionals at a disadvantage. When you order wine in a restaurant, you are quite literally putting your money where your mouth is. A good sommelier wants you to be happy with your choice. Fortunately, there’s an art to speaking up.

A lot depends on why you’re refusing the wine. It almost goes without saying that if something is glaringly wrong with the wine, that’s a perfectly fine reason to send it back. Cork taint, which has a cardboard-y taste, is the most common flaw. If you detect any sort of wet newspaper notes, or suspect the wine might have cork taint, you should absolutely request a different bottle.

“If you are given the wine to taste, what are you looking for? You are looking for an obvious wine fault, and usually this means cork taint,” Jamie Goode, award-winning author and VinePair contributor, recently wrote. He notes that a variety of other, less obvious wine flaws like mousiness, excessive brett, or oxidation might also merit sending a bottle back, but can be difficult for many consumers to identify.

“What you are not doing is tasting the wine to see if it is just right for you tonight. The only acceptable reason to reject a wine is faultiness. Full stop,” Goode adds.

Others in the industry have a different, more democratic approach. Many working sommeliers have opened bottles with faulty corks that had, as a result, turned the wine to vinegar, or that had obviously oxidized far before their time. Other, older bottles might have foreign solids such as crumbly cork bits floating in them. Most restaurant professionals believe those bottles can and should be returned.

The stickier point comes when for whatever reason a guest or table is unsatisfied with a technically correct bottle. There are those who, like Goode, who operate from a “buyer beware” mindset. They believe that if you ordered it and don’t like it, that’s on you.

Cassandra Felix, head sommelier and beverage manager for Flagler’s Steakhouse at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., feels differently. “We do not argue with the guest, ever,” she says. “If they’re unhappy or unsure, then I’ll taste the wine. I’ll inform them if I think the wine is fine, and if so, I’ll steer them towards another wine on the list. With a more expensive bottle, I’ll sometimes offer to double-decant it or to give it extra time to open up.”

Even in cases where the bottle costs upwards of $1,000 or more, Felix won’t make a guest pay for a wine they don’t want. After all, that unwanted bottle of wine can still be put to good use. A thoughtful sommelier might use it as an education tool for their staff, or pour it by the glass in an attempt to recoup the purchase cost. They might even offer tastes as a treat to valued regulars or other noteworthy guests.

If for any reason you suspect something is wrong with the wine, ask your server or sommelier to smell and taste it for themselves. If the wine is indeed flawed, they should open another bottle for you, no questions asked. In almost all cases, when a wine has a flaw, the restaurant will be reimbursed by the producer or distributor.

Of course, even if there’s nothing technically wrong with the wine, it might not suit you. This presents an opportunity for you to explain why the wine doesn’t meet your needs. Politeness counts, as does clarity.

In cases where the server or sommelier made a recommendation, they should graciously offer you a different wine that suits your tastes. Good wine professionals will make a note of how their suggestion and your tastes failed to line up, and will use it to better their service going forward. They will hopefully offer another recommendation that better takes your tastes into account.

On the other hand, if you ordered something on your own, you should still feel comfortable expressing your dissatisfaction. In this case, however, be prepared for a bit more resistance, especially if your server or somm offered to help you make a selection. If you’re respectful, staff at a quality restaurant will almost always take the bottle back. They will prefer you leave happy, even if that means wasting some wine.

The last thing to do as a wine consumer is to spend a bit of time thinking about your own tastes and preferences. One of the most powerful questions a sommelier might ask is, “What do you usually like to drink?” Those who can answer that question with specifics tend to get better, or at least more personalized recommendations than those who can’t. So, “Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy” is a much clearer answer than “Pinot Noir.”

Similarly, spend a moment or two considering your price range, and how interested you are in trying something new. There’s zero shame in wanting a wine that fits your budget, or to have an old standby. Communicating that ahead of time will help avoid unpleasant moments.

If the dreaded moment does occur, however, and you truly dislike the bottle you’re tasting, stop fretting. Send back the wine. Do it gracefully and politely, and you’ll not only have a better drinking experience, but you’ll help remove some of the tension that surrounds the tableside tasting ritual.


And of course, if you’d like some hands-on practice tasting wine and learning what to look for, please join us every Saturday from 1-5pm at our in-store tasting room where we will sample and discuss some of Napa’s finest wines!

4 Barrel, UNDER $60 Napa Cab Gem ~ from 100 Point Vineyard Crew

As the 6th generation farmer of his family’s Napa Valley ranch, Matt Hardin has a natural appreciation of the exceptional place that is the Napa Valley. Matt manages his full-time work as vineyard manager and partner in Barbour Vineyards with his commitment to managing the family ranch. In his time with Barbour Vineyards, Matt has farmed some of the most renowned vineyards in Napa including Hundred Acre, Herb Lamb and Checkerboard.  Many of these vineyards produced 100 point rated wines!

Matthew Wallace 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 59.99
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The latest Matthew Wallace was sourced from his in-law’s vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District and a small vineyard on Howell Mountain. The 2016 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine offers up an amazing bright aroma of black stone fruit.  On the palate the wine is rich and lush loaded with bold black stone fruit, dark chocolate, a touch of spice and a hint of toasty vanilla.  The wine really show well and the unctuousness of Howell Mountain grapes  balance well with the elegance and silkiness of the Stag’s Leap vineyard.  The wine is well-balanced and finishes with silky tannins.  Sadly only 104 cases were produced – so act fast!

Winemaker Notes: Rich, lush and intense on the nose and in the mouth. Layers of dark fruits, chocolate truffle, earthy spices and cigar leaf are buffered by smooth, silky tanning and lead to a seductive and lengthy finish. The fruit is sourced from Wallace Ranch Vineyard, Matt’s home vineyard in Pope Valley, encompassing a westward-facing steep hillside that produces fruit of remarkable concentration and depth.

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