Paul Lato’s “Rose of Pinot” is one to die for!

When I first got into the wine industry a few decades ago, rosé was anything but cool. White Zinfandel from California made the public think that all rosé was sweet, and unfortunately, imports such as Royal Lancers from Portugal and wines such as Sutter Home White Zin confirmed this notion.

Today, however, rosé is the second fastest growing segment of the wine market – the United States is the second largest rosé consuming country in the world, following France of course! It accounts for nearly 10% of all wine made worldwide. You’ll find rosé at high-end restaurants and stores like mine!  On that note, since Paul Lato makes some Syrah and Pinot Noir for me every year, I asked him a few years ago to start making some Rose of Pinot Noir for me, and looking at the response from my clients… a no brainer.  So I am very excited to introduce our NEW Melis Family 2020 Rosé from the Santa Rita Hills to you.

I would not be able to bring this Rosé to the market without the help of my winemaker and  good friend Paul Lato!  Paul helps me source the fruit and the entire Melis Family helps with the actual blend!

Melis Family 2020 Rose of Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
GGWC 31.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code MELISROSE during checkout

This wine is not an afterthought, but a serious contender. The 2020 Melis Family Rose of Pinot Noir (blend of 2 great Santa Rita Hills vineyards) offers up ample and layered fruit on both nose and palate. On the nose you’ll encounter crushed flowers, cranberry and bright red cherry notes which continue on the pleasant palate laced with a touch of bright acidity. The wine is nicely polished (Paul Lato would not have it any other way) finishing gorgeously. A crowd-pleasing rose!

Also check out:  Melis Family 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “G3” Beckstoffer, Napa Valley
And OF COURSE ALL GREAT  NEW 2019 Paul Lato Chardonnay & Pinot Noir releases!

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation


Time flies, as this is the 24nd  release of DUMOL!  I remember meeting Kerry Murphy (who sadly passed away last year in July) way back when he started DuMOL and tasting through the first bottles of what has now turned into a real success story.   Andy Smith, his longtime winemaker, rolled up his sleeves and produced what can turn into the best vintage for Dumol ever!.

With still lower than normal production levels this vintage will sell out in no time! The 2019 DuMol releases are turning out to be quite spectacular! I would say that several of these may be 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 2019 Pinot Noir “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley
Retail 80.00 –  NOW 74.99
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

Incredibly aromatic and complex, the 2019 Pinot Noir Wester Reach offers loads of spiced red fruits, incense, wood smoke, and forest floor notes as well as a medium-bodied, fresh, focused, yet still pleasure bent style. It’s a classic DuMol Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 5-7 years. This cuvée comes all from the Russian River Valley, from multiple clones, and spent a year in 40% new French oak.

Winemaker Notes: ”This beautiful, lilting, dynamic wine is the essence of coastal Russian River Pinot Noir. The wine’s aromas and flavors encompass the entire spectrum of red and black fruits, savory spices, and earthy undertones: black cherry, wild berries, dried thyme, orange zest, sandalwood, and black tea. The palate is supple, broad, and lively, flowing seamlessly to a crunchy vibrant finish with rising red-mineral lift and silky structure. Drink from Summer 2021 to 2030.”

Vineyard Sources: 26% Dumol Estate, 22% Flax Estate, 20% Widdoes, 16% Upp Road & 16% Hanna

Dumol 2019 Chardonnay  “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley
Retail 65.00 –  NOW 59.99
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

The Dumol 2019 Chardonnay Wester Reach comes from various great vineyards in the Russian River Valley, it has terrific notes of citrus and Meyer lemon, and hints of tart pineapple as well a medium-bodied, fresh, focused, incredibly pretty style on the palate. With bright acidity and plenty of vibrancy, it’s slightly more forward and fruit-driven compared to some of the other releases here. It’s a great introduction into the wines of this terrific estate.

Winemaker Notes: “Aromas are rich with oily intensity: white peach, tangerine, crystallized ginger, and hazelnut underpinned by an edge of steely mineral freshness. Stone fruits and deep citrus oil dominate the palate, broad and layered, full of intricate nuances. Tangy lemon curd and grapefruit notes combine with fresh acidity to bring energy and focus to the long, vibrant finish. Drink between Summer 2021 and 2025.”

Vineyard Sources: 30% Dumol Estate, 22% Morelli, 16% Flax estate 16% Charles Heintz, 16% Ritchie

Dumol 2019 Syrah “Mountainside” Russian River Valley
Retail 65.00 –  NOW 59.99
Use code DUMOL19 during checkout

Black cherry, boysenberry, lavender, violet and green peppercorn are all present in the aroma. There’s lovely clarity of flavor and purity of cool climate fruit: cassis and blackberry offset by thyme, tobacco and cocoa nib. A lushness of texture takes over with lingering black fruits and lilac on the peppery, extended finish. Drink this soon after release or enjoy the reward of 10+ years of aging.

Winemaker Notes: “Complex aromatics soar from the glass: blueberry and cherry, violet and graphite, cocoa and lavender. Flavors of boysenberry and cassis dominate as the wine flows to a broad, supple center, with notes of anise, sweet tobacco, and cracked black peppercorn throughout. Tannins are chewy, broad and fine, framing the lovely interplay between brightness and power, the wine finishing with lingering notes of licorice and floral lift. Drink between late 2021 and 2030. As this is an incredibly versatile wine, I recommend pairing it with rich stews or grilled meats. In its youth, the wine is best when decanted for an hour, and it is delicious the next day from a partial re-corked bottle. “

Vineyard Sources:  53% GVR Estate & 47% Hoppe-Kelly

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation!

“Fruit Bombs” are Misnamed

“Fruit Bombs” are Misnamed

by Dwight Furrow
in Food and Wine Aesthetics

It is common to associate ripeness with warm climates. But there is more nuance to this relationship between heat and ripeness than is commonly assumed. One thing I’ve noticed, when I periodically delve into old world wines, is that while warm regions seem to require alcohol at 14% or above to get their grapes ripe, cooler regions, and some winemakers in California who pick early, get ripe flavors with much less alcohol. (By ripe flavors, I don’t mean raisin notes. I mean rich, clear, focused fruit flavors.)

I suspect this has to do with the fact that vines start to shut down as the temperatures approach 90 degrees. After that point, the vines produce more sugar but not more flavor. Thus, a lot of that heat in warm climate regions is “wasted” when it comes to flavor. It just produces more sugar and potential alcohol.

There is also evidence that alcohol depresses floral and fruit aromas in wine while increasing wood and spice notes.

So why do we call riper, higher alcohol wines fruit bombs and why do consumers seem to gravitate toward them? I suspect there are at least three factors:

(1)  Higher alcohol reduces the perception of sourness.
(2) Consumers like some sweetness in their wine which makes ripeness possible. Alcohol also directly contributes to sensations of sweetness at least for some people. This enhanced sweetness is interpreted as fruity by the brain unless the taster is skilled at distinguishing sugar from fruitiness.
(3) Alcohol and residual sugar contributes to a lush, full mouthfeel.

None of this is really about fruit or flavor. It’s about sugar or perceptions of sweetness and texture—sugar bombs not fruit bombs.

If all this talk about ripeness, sugar, and sweetness has your head reeling, be sure to give us a call and I will help you get all straightened out! Wine expert Frank Melis is at your service to answer all of your wine questions and help you find the wines that match your style!  

Glass-staining under $45, 94-Point Rated Red

Chris and his wife JoAnn Cherry moved to Paso Robles in 1996 to open a restaurant, partake in the burgeoning wine scene and raise their children in the country. In 2001 they purchased their first grapes to make wine for their restaurant. And so began Villa Creek Cellars, a real expression of west Paso Robles’ Rhone grape varieties. A sort of “farm-to-table” i.e farm-to-bottle venture.

Villa Creek 2018 GSM Rock & Flowers, Paso Robles
GGWC 44.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code VILLA during checkout

Vinous 94 Points: “Glass-staining ruby. Highly fragrant scents of black raspberry, boysenberry, Indian spices, baking spices and candied flowers, along with a smoky element that builds in the glass. Smooth and seamless in texture, offering palate-coating red/blue fruit, spice-cake and floral pastille flavors that deliver an appealing marriage of depth and energy. Closes spicy, gently tannic and very long, leaving repeating spice and floral notes behind. This is the wine formerly known as Willow Creek Cuvée.“

Winemaker Notes:
    Aromatics – Brambly red berries dominate with braised lamb, Provençall herbs and green tea ice cream. Pure, clean.
    Palate Impression – Medium plus weight with grippy tannins; red fruit going brighter on the palate. Sweet cream on the finish.
    Acidity – Classic Westside Paso Robles snap!
    Oak Impression – Moderate with some Xmas spice and cream.
    Blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan

Also check out: Villa Creek  2018 GSM High Road – James Berry Vineyard 96 Points 

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96 Point & French Laundry’s FAVORITE Syrah! ONLY 150 CASES PRODUCED!!

“Site” is a venture from  Jeremy Weintraub (longtime Seavey winemaker).  He sources from the best “Sites” in California.  This latest Grenache is just a good example.  The 2017 Site is sourced from the Bien Nacido Vineyard.  The Bien Nacido Vineyard would be considered a “Grand Cru” if it was located in France.

~ Top Grand Cru Vineyards in California by Wine Spectator ~
~ Top Five California Vineyards by Wall Street Journal ~
~ Top 25 Vineyards in the World by Wine & Spirits ~
~ California’s Best Single Vineyards by Wine Enthusiast ~
~ Top 5 Vineyards You Can Trust by Pinot Report ~
~ Ten Best Vineyards by Food & Wine ~

Site 2017 Syrah “Bien Nacido”  Santa Barbara
GGWC  $59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code SITE during checkout

The 2017 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyards is beautifully lifted and perfumed. Time in the glass brings out hints of game, smoke and licorice that add nuance to the bright red and purplish berry fruit, but the 2017 remains quite primary and also tight following its bottling two months before this tasting. In the early going, the 2017 comes across as elegant and wonderfully nuanced. I can’t wait to taste it with a bit more bottle age.

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “Made from 100% Syrah from the Bien Nacido Vineyard and aged 18 months in 75% new oak, the 2017 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyards has a more meaty bouquet that carries brilliant cassis and darker berry fruits, salted meats, ground pepper, violets, and lavender notes. Full-bodied, concentrated, voluptuous, and incredibly seamless on the palate, it has another level of polished elegance. It’s brilliant Syrah from this talented winemaker to enjoy over the coming decade or more.”

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for ordering assistance or priority allocation!


One of the best Napa Cabs under $40 of the year! During a recent Virtual Tasting (50 parties tasting this wine around the country)  everyone was super excited and called this wine a winner, an amazing under $40 Napa Cabernet that tasted more like an $80+ wine!   

Stack House Cabernet is Made by husband and wife winemaking team Anna & Mario Monticelli. Anna was the longtime assistant winemaker at Bryant Family and full-time winemaker at Piña. Her husband Mario has been the right hand man of winemaker of the stars Philippe Melka at Quintessa, Melka, Lail, Vineyard 29 and Hundred Acre

Stack House 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 39.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code STACKHOUSE during checkout

Robert Parker 93 Points: “The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley comes mainly from mountain fruit. It is made up of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, aged 20 months in 85% new French oak. Deep garnet-purple colored, it features bombastic notes of black cherries, crème de cassis and warm plums with touches of cedar chest, pencil lead, menthol and forest floor. Full-bodied, firm and grainy, it has bold freshness and tons of black fruit layers, finishing on a spicy note”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points: “Made by Anna Monticelli, the 2017 Stack House Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc. Coming 90% from mountain fruit and brought up in 85% new French oak, it’s one of the best values in the vintage and has beautiful cassis, toasted spice, gravelly earth, and hints of graphite. It’s beautifully done, medium to full-bodied, and textured, and drinks way above its price point. Anna commented that this was the finest vintage of this cuvée she’s made.”
Winemaker Notes: “The 2017 Stack House Cabernet Sauvignon bursts from the glass with an intense plethora of dark brooding fruits including black currant, blackberry pie, black cherry and huckleberry compote. Following the fruit, layers of crushed volcanic rock, wet earth, toasty oak, baking spice and black pepper emerge. This full-bodied wine exhibits vibrant acidity, massive structure and an everlasting finish, all characteristic of the beautiful warm low-yielding vintage. Composed of almost all hillside fruit, this is an amazing value of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Also check out these other great wines made by Anna Monticelli (they assort for free shipping)
Tether 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Tether 2019 Chardonnay Napa Valley

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation


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 up the block from Kistler!  The first vintage 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 2019 Chardonnay Cahill Lane Russian River Valley 95 Points
Retail 39.99 – NOW 34.99 
FREE SHIPPING on 12 bottles
Use code HANSEL during checkout

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2019 Chardonnay Cahill Lane Vineyard is a magical wine. Bright and fresh, but with the natural richness of the Wente clone, the Cahill Lane dazzles right out of the gate. Light tropical accents, tangerine peel, spice, passionfruit and white flowers add an exotic flair, and yet the 2019 retains so much energy along with a sense of precision that is remarkable.”

Also check out these other Walter Hansel wines
Walter Hansel 2018 Pinot Noir Cuvee Alyce 96 Points
Walter Hansel 2018 Pinot Noir North Slope 95 Points
Walter Hansel 2018 Pinot Noir Estate 94 Points
Walter Hansel 2018 Chardonnay Cuvee Alyce 95 Points

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation

1 WEEK ONLY GET 15% OFF this Hidden Napa Gem that will not break the bank!

This ONE acre vineyard is located next to venerable and highly regarded Grace Family Vineyard in St. Helena. They have been producing some amazing wine over the past decade. All courtesy of a 100-Point winemaker who turned this little piece of dirt in a pile of gold flakes! The winery is owned by four friends and neighbors – the Martin and Croshaw families, thus the name MC4!

The 2018 vintage marks the ninth release from this great venture and I am proud to serve it up! As always, it’s a tiny production (less than cases), so don’t wait too long…

MC4 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” St. Helena Napa Valley
Retail 80.00 – NOW 69.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code MC4 during checkout

I was happily surprised how well this youngster showed from the get-go. Bold and bright flavors on the nose and on the palate – black stone fruit, chocolate and espresso beans jump out of the glass and tease the palate. Great density, yet well-balanced and elegant showcasing the intensity of a linebacker and the elegance of a ballerina – translated bold flavors, great body and an elegant long-fine-grained finish. The wine crescendos with silky tannins.  Another great achievement from one of Napa’s smallest vineyards.

Parker 94 Points: The MC4 sports a medium to deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed wild blueberries, black cherries and mulberries with slight touches of baking spices and dark chocolate plus a waft of sage. Medium to full-bodied, the palate features appealing restraint, with taut, muscular fruit and fantastic tension, finishing long and softly textured.”

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Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation

The Biggest Boldest California Petite Sirah Ever!

It all started with 7 barrels stashed in his employer’s cellar. What started as a modest homage to his rancher grandfather has become a beacon to those seeking opulent, structured Syrah and Grenache. To maintain balance while giving flavor full stage, Russell works with 30 top-tier vineyards in over 7 distinct growing regions between Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. Vineyards of particular note include: Bien Nacido, Slide Hill, Larner, Shadow Canyon, Chelle Mountain, Luna Matta and White Hawk. ­These are no nonsense, balls to the walls wines that are not for the faint of heart or the pinky raising set.

Herman Story 2019 Petite Sirah “First Time Caller” Santa Barbara
GGWC 55.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code HERMANSTORY during checkout

Winery Notes: See that first-chair flautist, the one really nailing a high E? Last weekend he got the largest gator in Razzor Ranch history. Didn’t shoot it, mind you, but wrestled the scaled beast into submission. Then kicked back with a slice of blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream, black licorice ropes, and a whole gallon of sun tea until the conservation folks showed up. Under that tux, he’s got claw marks head to toe, and he lost a couple ngers but wow, he’s ripping this third movement a new one.

Russell’s Notes: Ultra extracted by California sunshine and a bit of that classic Russell P. From “don’t pick it till you’ve finished your Christmas shopping” magic, this is the most dangerous wine I’ve made yet. For anyone who drinks French roast and likes their bacon extra crispy.

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “Coming all from sites in Paso Robles and 100% Petite Sirah, the purple, almost blue First Time Caller gives up a monster bouquet of blueberries, jammy blackberries, violets, ground pepper, and a touch of rocky minerality. A classic wine from this estate with its super plush, ripe, yet still balanced and pure style, it’s one hell of a steakhouse red to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years or so.“

Also check out these other great Herman Story Gems:
Herman Story 2019 Nuts & Bolts Syrah – 96 Points
Herman Story 2018 Casual Encounter GSM – 96 Points
Herman Story 2019 Smash City Pinot Noir – 93 Points
Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email for availability and priority allocation


By Dwight Furrow
in Food and Wine Aesthetics

It is routine in tasting notes and discussions about wine to refer to a wine’s body. But what exactly do we mean by that? Of course “body” refers to the wine’s mouthfeel and thus is an evaluation of tactile sensations in the mouth.  But what, specifically, are the elements of the body.

The most common definition is that the body of a wine consists of the perception of weight, volume, or viscosity. Concentration is also sometimes mentioned as a factor. But these are not perceptions of the same phenomenon. A ripe Cabernet Sauvignon may feel weighty in the mouth but may not have much viscosity until the tannins become evident on the finish. By contrast, a Pinot Noir usually has some viscosity at midpalate but is considerably lighter in weight than a Cabernet with soft tannins. A sense of concentration or density is associated with weight and viscosity, but Mourvedre from Bandol is often concentrated without the creamy mouthfeel associated with mid palate viscosity. Same with a high quality, dry Riesling which can be rich and full but not weighty. Wines with high acidity may feel light even if they are concentrated.

“Body” is not a single quality but a group of related yet distinct features that sometimes leave conflicting impressions. Thus,it isn’t obvious that the standard categories we use to indicate body–light, medium, and full—are helpful except as a quick summary. They cover up a world of detail.

There is some limited science on mouthfeel and body that attempts to link instrumental, objective measurements of physical components of wine with reports from tasters about what they sense.

The components of wine that are generally thought to influence the body are ethanol (alcohol), phenols (tannins especially), glycerol, and polysaccharides (derived from the breakdown of yeast and grape cells toward the end of fermentation during extended lees contact).  In this research conducted by Lara Laguna and her team, ethanol contributed to perceptions of body for expert tasters but not for tasters trained in the sensory analysis of wine.  Glycerol, which gives wine an oily mouthfeel, was generally perceived to increase body. It also affects persistence and whether the wine is perceived as soft or not. And the polysaccharides also were firmly associated with perceptions of the body.

Tannins, as expected, contribute to perceptions of astringency, which both the researchers and the tasters include within an assessment of the body. But the presence of glycerol and polysaccharides lessened perceptions of astringency.

Interestingly for the trained panel, samples that did not contain tannins also were rated as astringent because high acidity has a similar effect. This explains why it can be difficult to distinguish the effect of tannins from the effect of acidity. Both contribute to astringency.

And saliva plays a crucial role in how we perceive the body. Instrumental density and the perception of body among the tasters were correlated but only when the instrumental samples included saliva compounds. Instrumental density was related to the alcohol content, and in full-bodied wines, with dry extract as well.

One thing that struck me about this research was that the instrumental analysis of viscosity rated the most tannic wines as the most viscous. No doubt tannins increase the measured density of the wine thus modifying the rate at which fluid layers move past each other when measured by instruments. But that isn’t what we typically mean by viscosity. Viognier from the Northern Rhone is viscous because it is high in glycerol but contains minimal tannins. Glycerol and tannins cause distinctly different sensations. Perceived astringency (the drying sensation) is a different sensation from the sense of early and mid palate richness which reflects the level of glycerol.

Another paper by a team of researchers in Australia focuses on white wines and polysaccharides. They add to the mix evidence that high pH increases the perceived viscosity of wine and that sugar content also modulates perceptions of the body.

The takeaway point from this research is that density, viscosity, astringency, alcohol, and sugar content are all quite different dimensions of wine that cause a variety of distinct sensations. They affect the body of the wine but not in the same way. And because these four factors can vary independently of each other, we can mean very different things when we talk about the body.

We are just beginning to learn how to talk about this crucial dimension of wine quality.