LAST CALL FOR THIS UNDER $65 THOMAS RIVERS BROWN NAPA CABERNET

 

The 16-acre Gemstone Estate vineyard is truly a study in terroir. Situated on a gradual, west-facing slope in the Yountville appellation of the Napa Valley, this complex and diverse site has gravelly alluvial soil layered over loamy sandstone bedrock, avoiding the vigor of deep, rich soil. The vineyard is divided into 20 micro-blocks; including eight clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, two clones each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and one clone of Chardonnay. All of the vines are densely planted to a variety of rootstocks carefully matched to the soil. Each clonal block is farmed and fermented individually, yielding a distinctive palette of flavors from which Gemstone wines are built. Winemaker = Thomas Rivers Brown

Gemstone 2019 “Facets” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code GEMSTONE during checkout

The flavors are bright and nuanced throughout. Bright red cherry, plum, flowers, mint and sweet spices are pushed forward. Supple, silky and nuanced, the 2014 will drink nicely pretty much upon release. The vibrancy and purity to the flavors here is notable.

Winery Notes: “The beginning of the 2019 growing season in Napa Valley was defined by copious rainfall and late soil moisture. The long, warm summer saw very few extreme heat events, with foggy mornings setting the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. The long, relatively mild finish to the season helped to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit with abundant hang time resulting in great color, structure and soft tannins. All in all, exceptional fruit with bright acidity and great texture promises a fabulous vintage. “

Winemaker Tasting Notes: “Our 2019 FACETS Cabernet Sauvignon is concentrated and rich, with bright fruit tones of raspberry and cassis across the palate. Notes of cloves and cocoa add to the complexity. The finish is long with elegant and soft tannins.”

The Gemstone Facets Cabernet is also available in 375ml bottles

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

EXCLUSIVE FOR GOLDEN GATE WINE CELLARS– Hot “newcomer” Cabernet, worth checking out!

Trestle Glen

 

The Trestle Glen Vineyard is grown using sustainable farming practices. The vineyard is located near Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley between the Mayacamas Mountains and Sonoma Mountain. The unique microclimate, featuring underground natural hot springs and gentle ocean breeze, help prevent frost in late winter and early spring. During the summer and fall, warm days tempered by gentle afternoon winds off the Sonoma Mountain and cool nights provide slow even ripening. The hillside blocks have sparse gravely volcanic soil that ensure low vigor, low yield, and small concentrated berries.

Trestle Glen 2019 Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma                  
GGWC 79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code TRESTLE during checkout

The Hillside Reserve is lush and opulent, and full in body. The wine offers up aromas of crème de cassis, blueberry jam, sweet spice, lavender that jumps out of the glass upon impact. The lush wine dances over the palate like an elegant ballerina in Swan Lake, and continues to grow as time “dances” by. This exotic wine finishes with silky tannins. An amazing and super-expressive Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaker Notes: Shades of dark ruby red, this classic Cabernet Sauvignon boasts aromas of violet, cassis, plum, and black cherry wrapped in an oak bouquet of toasty vanilla, mocha, caramel, and nutmeg. Rich and well-rounded luscious flavors of black cherry and berry combine with supple tannin on a lingering finish.

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Winemaker of the Year – HELEN KEPLINGER

 

Helen Keplinger has been crafting amazing wines for over almost two decades now (Bryant Family, Carte Blanche, Grace Family, Arrow & Branch, Kenzo, Paradigm, Fiddlehead Cellars and of course her own label Keplinger). She has worked with the Napa Elite (Heidi Barrett & David Abreu) and gained other valuable experience in France and Australia. She can stand her own in this demanding wine world and her expertise is showcased in all the wines she produces. This year I think she deserves the crown as Winemaker of The Year as she put together some amazing wines that garnered great press (Carte Blanche and Keplinger wines).

Helen says: ”The culture of wine has been a part of my life since I can remember. My dad had a wine cellar, which was the source of my childhood wine bottle collection – I also collected rocks, an early indication of my future as a winegrower. Wine accompanied every gourmet dinner my mom prepared nightly; this combination of food and wine was an important part of our family evenings together. I always had an intense curiosity for science, a huge appreciation of art, and a gravitation toward and revitalization in nature – all which dynamically come together in winemaking. Since UC Davis, I have worked with Heidi Barrett, Kathy Joseph, Michel Rolland, and David Abreu. Since 2004, I have been the winemaker for some exciting projects, including Cellars Melis (Priorat), Kenzo Estate, Fort Ross, Sarocka, Scullly, Arrow & Branch, and Bryant Family Vineyards. I am currently focused solely on Keplinger and Carte Blanche Wines. I absolutely love what I do – I constantly strive to make great wines, respond to the curveballs of Mother Nature, and respect that each wine is a reflection not only of its origin, but the variables and characteristics of a particular vintage.”

I highly suggest you take a look at what was released this year from Helen.

Keplinger  2019 Sumo Petite Sirah “Shake Ridge Vineyard”
Regular 79.99 NOW 74.99 
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code KEPLINGER during checkout

OK to mix and match with other Keplinger wines


Keplinger Lithic  2019 Lithic GSM “Shake Ridge Vineyard”
Regular 79..99 NOW 74.99 
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code KEPLINGER during checkout

OK to mix and match with other Keplinger wines

And of course check out our WINE OF THE YEAR (by Helen Keplinger) 
CARTE BLANCHE 2018 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, BECKSTOFFER 97 POINTS

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

LAST CALL ANOTHER AMAZING WINE “OFFERING” WORTH LOOKING AT, NOT PRICEY

Sans Liege The Offering
Owner and Winemaker Curt Schalchlin has been producing high-quality Rhone blends at a very respectable price level for years. Curt worked for some of the best winemakers in industry and went solo about over a decade ago, and the rest is history. Today Sans Liege has a worldwide fan base among my clients, as far as Japan, Europe and South America. The 2019 Sans Liege “The Offering” is by far the best release to date!    

Sans Liege 2019 GSM “The Offering” Santa Barbara                              
GGWC 32.00 NET ITEM
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code SANSLIEGE during check out

The Sans Liege “The Offering” (a blend of 42% Grenache, 38% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre) is a wine that captures the imagination and challenges expectations, it displays a beautiful purity and depth that is reminiscent of having a summer picnic in an ancient church. Resinous scents of black cherry cola, frankincense, fresh-peeled Clementine orange and vanilla extract lead to a well-structured and balanced palate of curried mix-berry cobbler, turmeric, dark chocolate cocoa nibs and black pepper with rocky, persistent tannins.

Winemaker Notes: “Sitting atop a wool blanket in the midst of the redwood forest you sip water with muddled raspberries & a sprig of thyme. Slivers of daylight shine down through the towering giants which surround you and the fall breeze brushes your face. It carries scents of sassafras, wild strawberry and tobacco leaves. After weeks of feeling stuck you finally begin to sketch, smelling the graphite from your pencil as it flicks across the page. The forest is replete with inspiration and offers all that you need.”

Vineyard Sources:
Grenache: Alta Mesa, Kopack, Alta Colina, Derby, Jesperson, Spanish Springs. 
Syrah: Slide Hill, White Hawk, Zotovich, Old Potrero, Spanish Springs.
Mourvedre: Alta Colina, Derby, Santa Barbara Highlands, Old Potrero

ALSO CHECK OUT:
SANS LIEGE PROPHETESS XVIII/XIX SANTA BARBARA
SANS LIEGE 2020 CÔTES DU COAST, WHITE BLEND
GROUNDWORK 2019 GRENACHE BLANC
GROUNDWORK 2018 SYRAH

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

The 100 Point 2019 Bevan “Bordeaux Selections” are finally here!

Bevan Cellars Outdoor Lifestyle

 

I am very excited about the 2019 Bevan releases. I know Russell always makes great wines, but the 2019 vintage is special! Although young, they are showing a lot of promise, even at this early stage!
I had the opportunity to review them over a 48 hour period…

On day 1, I opened up the bottles at 10 AM, decanted them and tasted them around 5 PM – result WOW! I poured them back in the bottle and let them “rest” overnight.

On day 2, I pulled the corks at 5 PM and an even bigger WOW, AMAZING!  These wines are real gems!
Bottle after bottle I was blown away, probably the best wines Russell has ever made! Top Notch! Unfortunately production levels are as always low, and there will be NO 2020 releases from this winery. Moreover, not a large amount was allocated to me, but I am very excited to share the following 2019 Bevan wines with you:

Bevan 2019 Ontogeny Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
GGWC 119.99 net item (Max. order 6)

Winery Notes: ”This is the first wine we blend every year, and this year’s result is powerful. As you have come to expect each release, the core of this blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, and in 2019 it comes from some of the rockiest blocks at Tench Vineyard. It has a fabulous meaty quality and all the fruit to back it up. It was quite an undertaking to craft a wine that could stand up to the ’18 Ontogeny that was so yummy, but what we have in ’19 is an even bigger beast.

Jeb Dunnuck 99 Points (2018): “While this cuvée is one of the least expensive in the lineup, it’s often one of my favorites. The Bevan Ontogeny is no exception and should be snatched up by readers. A classic wine nose of ripe, pure blue fruits, cassis, violets, and smoked earth gives way to a full-bodied, dense, concentrated Cabernet with beautiful tannins and length. It’s going to evolve for 20 years or more.”

FMW 97 Points: The 2019 Ontogeny offers a  deep purple hue, and an exquisite bouquet of black and stone fruits, crushed flowers  and cocoa. The wine is intense, full in body with layer upon layer of lush flavors on the palate, showcasing incredible purity of fruit. It’s a gorgeous wine that’s showing well today, better tomorrow and should please for 10-15 years!

Vinous 96 Points: “The 2019 Ontogeny is another tremendous wine in this range. In fact, the 2019 is one of the very best Ontogenys I can remember tasting. Rich, sumptuous and unapologetically brash, the 2019 is a total rock-star. A touch of Malbec adds exuberance to the fruit, as if these wines needed any more richness. For readers who want to know what the fuss is about Bevan, Ontogeny is the place to start!”

Bevan 2019 Tench EE Red (Cabernet Blend) Napa Valley – 99 Points 
GGWC 219.99 net item (Max. order 4)

Winery Notes: “The Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend comes from Block 2A at the Tench Vineyard, which is all red dirt. This soil profile gives us more blue fruits then black, but the tannins are also a little gentler, which we balance by blending in Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc has massive tannins. That addition adds concentration and structure, pulling the wine back on the palate for a mouthwatering finish. There is no doubt the concentration we achieved blending the EE in 2019 is phenomenal.”

Robert Parker 99 Points: “Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, the 2019 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard is a barrel sample with a deep garnet-purple color. It leaps out of the glass with crème de cassis, blueberry pie and black cherry cordial with nuances of potpourri, kirsch and tobacco leaf. Full-bodied, the palate is bright and refreshing with bags of juicy fruit and a soft texture, finishing with a floral lift.”


Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points: “Lots of smoked black raspberry, cassis, sappy herbs, and forest floor notes emerge from the 2019 Tench Vineyard EE Red Wine, a soft, supple, incredibly opulent barrel sample that hits all the right notes. With terrific purity, ripe, supple tannins, and outstanding length, it should be one of the more accessible wines on release yet still have a long evolution given its balance.”

Bevan 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard Oakville
Napa Valley –  99+ Points 

GGWC 219.99 net item (Max. order 3)

Winery Notes: “‘The incredibly rocky soils of the Tench block this wine comes from, consistently develops incredible, intense flavors: acidity on the tip of your tongue, weight that pushes from start to finish, blackberry and currant fruit, with great texture and finesse. A massive wine that maintains a sense of grace and elegance.”

Robert Parker 99+ Points: “A barrel sample, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard is deep garnet-purple colored and skips out of the glass with bright cherry, blackberries, crushed blackcurrants and plum preserves scents with hints of menthol, bay leaves and candied violets. Full-bodied, the palate is bombastic and juicy with plush tannins and lively acid, finishing long.”


Jeb Dunnuck 99 Points: “A stellar looking barrel sample, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench offers a vivid purple hue as well as pretty blue fruits, iron, white flowers, and a liquid violet-like character. It’s more elegant and streamlined compared to the more opulent 2018, with beautiful balance.”

Bevan 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Sugarloaf Napa Valley – 100 Points
GGWC 219.99 net item (Max. order 2)

Winery Notes: “Dark chocolate, violets, tobacco, spring flowers, this wine is a hedonist’s delight. The Cabernet Franc provides robust tannins, where the Merlot gives an insane, mouth-coating lusciousness. This wine continually amazes us with how gracefully it ages. The 2012 Sugarloaf is just now hitting its sweet spot. 2019 will no doubt prove the same age-worthiness.”

Jeb Dunnuck 100 Points: “Checking in as a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, the 2019 Proprietary Red Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard is one of the top wines in 2019 (at least at this stage). Offering an incredible nose of black raspberries, cassis, wildflowers, violets, and wood smoke, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, ultra-fine, seamless texture, great tannins, and a great, great finish. The purity is just about off the charts.”

Also check out the remaining “Burgundy” releases:

Bevan Ritchie Chardonnay
Bevan Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
Bevan Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Frank’s Top 25+ of 2021

Top 25

 

The Top 25+ Wines of 2021!

Another strange year in wine reviews, but I was still able to taste and review over 1500 wines. My tasting group met via zoom most of the time, but late summer we met again in person! We tasted, smelled, and swished a boatload of wines, so to come up with our “own” Top 25 wines that are “the greatest” is not easy. But as always, we try to do our best! My tasting group of 14 wine swishers, wine smellers, wine “evaluators”, and my friends of Bacchus carefully assessed the wines and came up with the following final list! This year we have a Top 25+ as we could not decide on the last entry, so we gave it to two wineries, it is our version of the “Baker’s Dozen”…..

Congrats to everyone!

1  –  Carte Blanche 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Napa Valley
~ 97+ Points ~

2  –    Paul Lato 2019 Chardonnay “Le Souvenir” Sierra Madre Vineyard
~ 97 Points ~

3  –  Cresta Velia 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “Mount Veeder” Napa Valley
~ 96+ Points ~

4  –  Cattleya 2019 Pinot Noir “Belly of the Whale” Petaluma Gap, Sonoma
~ 97 Points ~

5  –  Morgado 2018 Sugarloaf Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
~ 96 Points ~

6  –    Shared Notes 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Les Leçons des Maîtres, Russian River Valley
~ 96 Points ~

7  –  Scarlett 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Rutherford Napa Valley
~ 97 Points ~

8  –  Argot 2019 “Bastard Tongue” Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
~ 97 Points ~

9  –  Aperture 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
~ 97 Points ~

10  –  Hudson 2019 Chardonnay “Estate” Carneros Napa Valley
~ 97 Points ~

11  – DuMol 2019 Chardonnay “Chloe” Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley
~ 96 Points ~

12  – Herman Story 2019 GSM “Casual Encounters” Paso Robles
~ 95 Points ~

13  – Desparada 2019 Soothsayer Cabernet Blend
~ 95 Points ~

14  – DuMol 2019 Chardonnay “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley
~ 98 Points ~

15  – En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blanc “Beckstoffer” Napa Valley
~ 95 Points ~

16  –  Senses 2019 “UV-El Diablo” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
~ 97 Points ~

17  – Coho 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
~ 96 Points ~

18  – Familiar Air 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
~ 95 Points ~

19  – Kamen 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Sonoma
~ 96 Points ~

20  –  Site 2018 Viognier “Larner Vineyard” Santa Barbara
~ 96 Points ~

21  – Halcon 2019 Esquisto GS(M), Estate Mendocino
~ 95 Points ~

22  – Walter Hansel 2019 Chardonnay “Cuvee Alyce” Russian River Valley
~ 95 Points ~

23  – Melis Family 2020 Rose of Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
~ 94 Points ~

24  – Sans Liege XVIII/XIX Prophetess, Santa Barbara
~ 95 Points ~

25 (tied) – Castiel 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Howell Mountain Napa Valley
~ 96 Points ~

25 (tied) – Trestle Glen 2019 Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma (Inaugural release)
~ 95 Points ~

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Golden State Terroir: Four Central Coast Vineyards to Know

Golden State Terroir: Four Central Coast Vineyards to Know
Contributed by Matt Kettmann

 

AN IMAGE OF SANFORD & BENEDICT VINEYARDS
DURING SUNSET. / PHOTO BY: JEREMY BALL

For an industry awash in competing theories and ever-evolving techniques, one maxim holds true for almost every winemaker: Great wine can only come from great vineyards.

There’s no shortage of such properties on California’s Central Coast. From Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara, towering mountains drop directly into the frigid ocean. The topography opens valleys to steady sea breezes that moderate long growing seasons and unleash unique soil combinations, from sandy to chalky to volcanic, each creating distinctive flavors and textures in finished wines. While some of these are monopole estates used by just one winery, most of the region’s vineyards grow grapes for multiple brands, opening windows into the defining characteristics of each property.

To celebrate this shared experience, we’re showcasing four of the most important Central Coast vineyards, from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands down to the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. Together, they exemplify the wide range of wine styles that can be made along this increasingly important stretch of coastline.
 
Santa Barbara’s Historic Home of Pinot Noir: Sanford & Benedict Vineyard
 

FROM LEFT, SANFORD WINERY OWNER JOHN TERLATO,
SENIOR WINEMAKER TREY FLETCHER, AND ASSOCIATE WINEMAKER LAURA ROACH. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF SANFORD & BENEDICT VINEYARD

In 1971, when Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict scoured the western reaches of the Santa Ynez Valley for an ideal place to grow Pinot Noir, their initial motivation was climatic, chasing the temperature as it dropped closer to the coast. They came upon a bean farm that was properly chilled but also slightly protected from the persistent wind. It was completely distinct geologically, due to a landslide that had spilled a rare mix of chert, shale and diatomaceous earth.

“Sanford & Benedict was definitely about two guys on a mission, looking for this spot, knowing that they had something, and keeping their fingers crossed for a few years that it was true—and it was,” says Trey Fletcher, senior winemaker for Sanford Winery, which owns Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. “That landslide unearthed a diversity of deep soils that have incredible water-holding capacity. It’s incredibly rare to find that combination.”

As such, Sanford & Benedict is “very much a vineyard that looks to the earth for its influence,” says Fletcher, who likes to hunt for chanterelles and other mushrooms in the hills behind the vineyard. “There’s a sweet earthiness, a sweet forest-floor character aromatically that’s very unique.” He also believes the “tremendously silky and satiny” texture is a hallmark.

CLOSE-UP IMAGE OF GRAPES AT
SANFORD &BENEDICT VINEYARDS.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SANFORD & BENEDICT

The vineyard’s lauded 1976 vintage proved that Pinot Noir can work as far south as Santa Barbara County and sparked a planting revolution in the nearby hills, eventually leading to the creation of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in 2001.

Of the 150 acres planted—a quarter to Chardonnay, the rest to Pinot Noir—there remain 58 acres of own-rooted old vines from the early 1970s that are in “very good shape,” says Fletcher. He makes about 10 different wines from this vineyard alone, including three sparklers, an old-vine bottling and a handful of block designates. But more than a dozen clients also buy fruit from Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, including Chanin, Sandhi, Margerum, The Hilt and Fess Parker.

Quality and Quantity in Paso Robles: French Camp Vineyard

About 35 miles southeast of Paso Robles, seemingly endless golden hills of dry grass are suddenly interrupted by an oasis of emerald green.

This is the French Camp Vineyard, more than 1,200 acres that were planted back in 1972. It remains a critical grape source for wineries both large, such as WX, Duckhorn and Fetzer, and small, such as Herman Story and Giornata. It’s one of three vineyards planted by the Miller family, which also owns two other critical Central Coast properties in the Santa Maria Valley: Bien Nacido Vineyard, which is called the “most vineyard-designated vineyard in the world,” and Solomon Hills Vineyard, which rides that appellation’s westernmost edge.

The largest property in the Paso Robles Highlands appellation, French Camp is a masterclass in viticulture, showcasing both modernized machine harvesting for value-minded wines as well as hands-on organic farming for boutique bottlings. The property’s 23 different varieties enjoy massive shifts of about 50 degrees from day to night, says Greg O’Quest, longtime vineyard manager.
 

AERIAL VIEW OF FRENCH CAMP VINEYARDS.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLER FAMILY WINE COMPANY

“As the crow flies, we’re only about 30 miles from the rock in Morro Bay,” he says.

Jonathan Nagy is the top winemaker for the Miller Family Wine Company, in charge of brands such as J. Wilkes, which sources Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Viognier and Cabernet Franc from French Camp. After years working with Santa Barbara’s cool-climate sites, he was initially skeptical about the quality of these remote grapes.

“But I was surprised in a good way—it holds acidity really well,” he says, noticing significant differences compared to other appellations.

“Tasting Cab from here versus the rest of Paso, it’s like, ‘Wow, I see why there is an appellation here.’” – Jonathan Nagy, Miller Family Wine 

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding grapes from the smaller blocks, like the hilltop Petite Sirah used by Herman Story, or the Lagrein sourced by Alapay Cellars. Stephy Terrizzi of Giornata Wines, which buys Aglianico from the property, is continually amazed by French Camp, which is so remote that it sells gas to employees.

“There is no cell service, and I really feel like I am in the Wild West when I am there,” she says. “It’s remarkable that such a wild vineyard so far off the beaten path can consistently produce such high-quality grapes. The resulting wine is floral, spicy and balanced yet very complete on the palate. It’s…complex, crowd-pleasing and consistent year after year.”

Consistency in the Santa Lucia Highlands: Garys’ Vineyard

AERIAL VIEW OF GARYS’ VINEYARD.
PHOTO BY: WILDLY SIMPLE PRODUCTIONS

At first glance, the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation extends across a monotonous bench above the Salinas River and beneath the dark, craggy mountains that eventually reach Big Sur. But on the ground, each vineyard shows considerable differences in aspect, soil, clone and personality—as in, the people who are behind each property.

For Garys’ Vineyard, that would be the two Garys: Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, who both hail from the region’s multigenerational Swiss-Italian farming families.

Though Garys’ Vineyard did not exist until 1997, its origins go back to 1982, when Pisoni established his family vineyard a few miles south. “Dad was one of the first dudes up here planting wine grapes with a focus on quality and a focus on Pinot Noir,” says Mark Pisoni, who’s in charge of farming for the family today.

In 1996, Franscioni planted his first vineyard, named Rosella’s after his wife, and the next year, the two Garys teamed up, planting about 50 acres of the Pisoni clone of Pinot Noir, which has long been rumored to be from La Tache in Burgundy. (They’ve since added Clone 23 and Mount Eden.)
 

AERIAL VIEW OF GARYS’ VINEYARD.
PHOTO BY: WILDLY SIMPLE PRODUCTIONS

“The combination of that clone planted on the sloping, wind-whipped and well-drained benchland around the mid-Santa Lucia Highlands gives a wine with a unique style all its own,” says Dean De Korth, winemaker for Bernardus, who first worked with Garys’ when he was at Morgan Winery in the late 1990s. “It typically has an amazing depth of complex flavors with expressive red fruits and notes of mineral and spice.”

Franscioni believes the vineyard’s 250-foot elevation differential is part of what makes the site special.

“The bottom area is often picked two weeks before the top of the vineyard,” he says. “This has a lot to do with the flavor profiles.”

Today, they sell the grapes to more than a dozen producers, including Kosta Browne, Red Stitch, Testarossa and Twomey. Siduri founder Adam Lee started with Garys’ on the first vintage of 1999 and even has a block named after his son Christian, who was born that year. He still uses Garys’ for his Clarice Wine Company and loves the rocky soils, which are rare on this side of the appellation.

“I think this leads to a wine with more structure and overall grip,” says Lee. “These are not shy wines when it comes to fruit, but that is balanced out by that mineral-like structure that comes from the soils.

Capturing Coastal Crispness: Spanish Springs Vineyard

JIM MCGARRY, OSCAR TAPIA, ERIN AMARAL- PACIFIC COAST FARMING TEAM AT THE SPANISH SPRINGS VINEYARD.
PHOTO BY: KRIS M. BEAL

Just two miles from the clam chowder shacks and surf shops of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County, Spanish Springs Vineyard occupies the east-facing flanks of Price Canyon atop sandy, acid-retaining soils, with occasional piles of fractured shale visible beneath the vines.

Planted in 2007, the 92-acre vineyard, which is owned by developer Henry Warshaw and farmed by Pacific Coast Farming, now sells to three dozen wineries, making it one of the most popular vineyards anywhere.

“You’re far enough away from the ocean where you’re not sitting in the fog, but you’re close enough to the ocean that it’s emanating those cool climate aspects,” says Coby Parker-Garcia, who’s been making wines in the nearby Edna Valley since 2002 and started his own brand called El Lugar Wines in 2013. “I think of the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley as very coastal AVAs. Spanish Springs trumps that. It’s twice as close to the ocean, if not closer.”
 

SPANISH SPRINGS VINEYARD.
PHOTO BY: KRIS M. BEAL

Though most of the property is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, there’s also Syrah, Grenache, Albariño, Pinot Gris, Viognier and Barbera. Steve Dooley of Stephen Ross Cellars, which makes a flinty Albariño from the property, believes that the long hang times make for pronounced varietal fruit expressions.

“The Albariño has great acidity and displays a coastal energy, which is consistent across all the varieties grown there,” says Dooley.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay remain the workhorse varieties and are the sole bottlings for Oceano Wines. Co-owner Rachel Martin, who also makes wine in Virginia, was so smitten upon first visiting in 2016 that she signed up for six tons of Chardonnay on the spot. Oceano Winemaker Marbue Marke believes, alongside the property’s clonal diversity, “multiple exposures and hillside slopes” create microclimates that enhance complexity.

CALIFORNIA’S SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS: THE ARTISAN ERA

“Probably most significantly,” he says, “it brings brightness and balance with its low pH at maximum ripeness, thanks to the soil and cooling ocean breeze.”

For Parker-Garcia of El Lugar, Spanish Springs “just makes wines that truly show a sense of place.” While his Pinot Noir is savory, his Syrah is especially characteristic, offering plenty of iodine and kelp notes.

“You do get that salinity, that nori character in the wines,” he says.

 

Visit us at GoldenGateWineCellars.com!
As always, don’t hesitate to call us at 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for selection advice or assistance!

 

LAST CALL 4 Scarlett Cabernet 2018 Release

 

Scarlett Wines is a family operation owned by the McGah family, who are most notably known for co-founding the Oakland Raiders. Representing over four generations of wine growers, the family’s personal touch can be felt from the soil to the glass. The winery previously operated under the name McGah Family Cellars and rebranded in 2015 in honor of its flagship wine, Scarlett, which is named after the founder’s daughter. The wines are made by Mike Smith (Carter Cellars, Bench, 12cs, Myriad, Quivet)
 
Scarlett 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Rutherford
Napa Valley

Regular 79.99  NOW 69.99
FREE SHIPPING ON 12 OR MORE
Use code SCARLETT during checkout

This might be the best effort from Mike Smith to date! The wine has a dense purple hue and the aromas are AMAZING! The color is STUNNING! The flavors are MIND BOGGLING! The wine is loaded with black stone fruit and chocolate aromas. On the palate the wine gushes with more chocolate, black currant, jam and some delicate Rutherford dust. The wine is full in body, yet elegant and refined! Gorgeous from start to finish. Massively scaled for a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Winery Notes: “The 2018 McGah Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a brooding, complex, and beautiful Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon that can only be made in this storied appellation. The uplifting aromatics showcase multiple layers of black cassis, red fruits, and earthy components known for this terroir. The mid palate is perfectly balanced with abundant blue, red and black fruits, followed by a full-bodied mouthfeel that hovers across the spectrum of the palate. Perfectly integrated structure and polished tannins lead to a detailed and long finish that carries the signature Rutherford dust component that our wines are known for. A blend from five of our Cabernet Sauvignon blocks on the estate, this wine showcases the unparalleled terroir of the McGah Vineyard. Allow 2-3 years for the tannins and fruit to come together or enjoy it in its prime 5-10 years out.”

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points: The 2018 Cabernet showed nicely, possessing the fresher, more elegant style of the vintage. The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is textbook all the way, offering a vivid ruby/purple hue, lots of cassis fruit, notes of graphite, tobacco, and subtle oak, medium to full body, and a balanced, pure, seamless texture. Its unquestionably an outstanding wine.

Also check out:
Scarlett 2018 Zinfandel “Estate” Rutherford, Napa
Scarlett 2019 Sauvignon Blanc  Estate, Rutherford, Napa 


Also check out the 2019 Switchback Ridge wines made by Mike Smith.

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

A great $50s Cabernet, 95 Points

The Desparada, Vailia From owner/winemaker, is the wife of Russell From the owner/winemaker of Herman Story. But she is her “own” woman in this man’s world! Desparada is the culmination of 19 years of traveling and working for and in wine. Vailia has seen every side of the industry, from winemaking to harvesting, to importing, cold calling for sales, to managing brokerages, to working on restaurant floors, and managing a mobile bottling line. There’s something in wine that keeps her going. She’s a traveler by nature, and Desparada is what carries her. A no-nonsense lady, making no-nonsense, well-priced and good quality wines with a twist.


Desparada 2019 Soothsayer Cabernet
GGWC 52.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code DESPARADA during checkout

Velvety, generous and fruit forward, a juicy mix of blackberry, huckleberry and blueberry puree flavors, with details of black pepper, Earl Grey tea and toffee notes, finishing with candied violet notes.

Winemaker Notes: ”Blueberry gondola, Chambord soaked chocolate lava cake, royalty, accidentally spilling oregano in cranberry juice, perfect origami lollipops, elevator rides with taxidermy friends.”

FMW 95 Points: “On the nose you are welcomed by gobs of gorgeous black fruit, a hint of chocolate and a touch of underbrush that balance out the bouquet. On the palate this bold, lush wine serves up a bright and powerful platter of gorgeous black currant and black berry fruit laced with dark chocolate, anise and a touch of leather. The palate overflows with flavors that linger into a long and complex finish. As always, A VERY LIMITED PRODUCTION!!”

Also check out her husband’s Herman Story Wines  

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

A MUST HAVE 96 Point Pinot!

Despite only being six miles from the Pacific, Rice-Spivak is still the most inland of the vineyards Cobb works with. Even so, it’s a very cool site. The 2018 growing season has yielded the finest vintage of Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir ever made. While Rice-Spivak’s Dijon and Swan Pinot Noir plantings, northern exposure, and unique volcanic ash-laden soils always produce a complex, aromatic wine with excellent acidity and earthiness, the 2018  has a level of depth and concentration that is remarkable. It also possesses more black fruit and spice layers than we traditionally see from this vineyard, all at a low alcohol level.

Cobb 2018 Pinot Noir “Rice Spivak” Sonoma Coast
GGWC 84.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code COBB during checkout

On impact this wine will surprise you as dark aromas of layered cherries jump out of the glass. The wine is full in body, yet extremely elegant (not delicate). About 1/3 of the wine is whole cluster press and it shows in the flavors on the mid-palate. Gorgeous color and flavors from start to finish. This wine offers stunning black cherry and plum flavors with some savory spiciness on the palate. The tannins are there but not aggressive at all finishing with a silky, strawberry tartness that is very pleasant and appealing. Only 225 cases were produced and I was allocated a mere 6 of them, so HURRY!

Robert Parker 96 Points: The 2018 Pinot Noir Rice Spivak Vineyard is pure and expressive this vintage, with layered scents of red cherries, orange peel, saline and earth. The palate is soft, fresh and super spicy, its charming, juicy red berry fruits calling you in again and again for another sip. It’s a detailed supple version of this cuvée with immediate drinking appeal.

Winery Notes: “Rice-Spivak has a great history with our brand. We first began working with the property back in 2003, just three years after it was planted. We went on to single vineyard designate the property in 2006 and haven’t missed a vintage since. Rice-Spivak is located just west of Hwy 116 in the Sebastopol hills. Though it is the easternmost vineyard we work with, it is often picked at the same time as Coastlands due to its relatively low elevation and the pooling effect of the cool coastal winds. I love how Rice-Spivak always holds a lovely amount of available fruit on the palate that works nicely with a strong core of minerality and bright acidity.
 
Also check out these other Cobb Wines (assort for free shipping)
Cobb 2018 Pinot Noir “Diane Cobb” Sonoma Coast 97 Points
Cobb 2018 Pinot Noir Doc’s Ranch “Swan and Calera” Selection” 97 Points

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Napa Value in a Bottle

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 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
GGWC 39.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code STACKHOUSE during checkout

Winery Notes: “The 2018 Stack House Cabernet Sauvignon possesses a stunning bouquet of blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, crushed volcanic rock, damp earth, toasty oak and baking spice. This wine exhibits vibrant acidity, freshness and extraordinary purity. The palate reveals soft tannins and a beautifully layered finish. The 2018 Stack House is an amazing value of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. “ 

Robert Parker 93 Points (2017): “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 (2017): “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.”
 
Also check out these other great wines made by Anna Monticelli (they assort for free shipping)
Tether 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Tether 2019 Chardonnay Napa Valley

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

A Rochioli “Bargain” Pinot Noir

Terry Bering has been the longtime cellar Master at Rochioli Vineyards and Winery, and also has his own Pinot Noir Project which he, of course, sources from the Rochiloi vineyards! Terry makes flavorful, aromatic, and wonderfully nuanced wines that do justice to the Rochioli vineyard source. As you know Rochioli Pinot Noir is much sought after, and runs 95.00, so you can have an amazing Pinot from the same source at more than 30% less!

Castalia 2019 Pinot Noir “Rochioli” Russian River Valley
GGWC 64.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code CASTALIA during checkout

This youngster offers up-front red fruits (raspberry and strawberry) with gorgeous aromatic and complex notes of spice and flower. The wine is medium to full in body, and serves up a fruit-forward, supple, undeniably delicious mouthfeel. This makes for a stellar Pinot Noir. All the elements come together in a dynamic, vibrant wine that is loaded with personality and pizzazz.

Terry’s notes: “I first made Pinot Noir as a home winemaker in 1985. I have been working at Rochioli Winery since 1990 and worked the 1988 & 1989 crush, and have been Cellar Master at Rochioli for the last twenty-eight years. I created the Castalia label in 1992. The wine was kept for 15 months in oak, 25% new, all French. This has given the wine a much softer feel at release. As always the wine is 100% from the Rochioli vineyards, and should age for at least ten years and be in its prime from 4 to 7 years. Castalia Pinot Noir possesses the full-bodied complexity and subtle cherry essence that are so typical of the finest Russian River Pinot Noirs. Many fine restaurants in the greater Bay Area have recognized that reputation by serving Castalia Pinot Noir year after year. I am pleased to now offer a limited quantity of our most recent vintage to the general public.”

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Below the radar: A Hot New Napa CULT CABERNET Release – VERY LIMITED

Heimark Vineyard is a celebration of the fruit exclusively sourced from their family-owned vineyard. The vineyard is located in Dutch Henry Canyon on the east side of the Silverado Trail, a historic wagon trail connecting the small towns of Calistoga and Napa and originally frequented by gold prospectors and highwaymen. As the first to plant on this pristine Napa Valley vineyard site, the Heimark family has nurtured this land for over twenty years. The site rests upon an ancient landslide framed by forest, overlooking the valley floor. Misty mountain mornings and golden sunsets reward the southwest-facing sloped vineyard, creating a distinct microclimate. Wild turkey, California black bear, and mule deer roam the property and are sometimes spotted stealing grapes or sunbathing at the vineyard’s natural reservoir.

The “gold” of the Heimark property lies not in the shiny metal that long-ago prospectors sought, but rather in the soil. Rocky, volcanic, and fractured, this challenging environment cultivates resilient, deeply rooted vines. The struggle that the vines endure in this terrain results in grapes of lustrous quality and intense flavors. The fruit is infused with hints of blackberry, black cherries, boysenberry, plums, cloves, and wild herbs. These singular grapes make for spirited, well-balanced red wines with great energy, natural lift, and a lengthy finish. In 1997, the vineyard development was placed in the highly skilled hands of vineyard manager Michael Wolf, viticulturist Mary Hall Maher (Etude and Harlan Estate). Fourteen acres were identified for Cabernet Sauvignon and one acre for Petit Verdot.

Since the first planting, Heimark Vineyard fruit has been highly sought after by some of the most esteemed winemakers in Napa Valley. Wines made primarily from our grapes have received multiple 100-point ratings. We are honored by the vineyard’s acclaim and excited to bring this fruit to market under our own family label with wine made exclusively from the expressive grapes of this terroir.

The wines are crafted by Françoise Peschon who was the winemaker at the fabled Araujo Estate (Eisele Vineyard) for fourteen years. She is also the winemaker at VHR, Vine Hill Ranch, Cornell and her own Drinkward Peschon winery, and is an integral part of the winemaking team at Accendo Cellars.

Heimark 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena
Napa Valley 97 Points

$169.99 net item
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code HEIMARK during checkout

Vinous 97 Points: “The 2018 Heimark Cabernet Sauvignon is a grand, dramatic wine. Inky, deep and outrageously beautiful, this 2018 Cabernet dazzles from the very first taste. Dark cherry, chocolate, licorice and spice all build in the glass. Firm tannins need time to come together, but there is an inner sweetness to the 2018 vintage. More than anything else what stands out is the wine’s stature. All I can say is wow!”

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Sensory Science: Wine Aromas Explained

Smelling in Wine Tasting (C)William Lawrence Wikicommons

Sensory Science: Wine Aromas Explained

Contributed by Jamie Goode

People often lament the weakness of the human sense of smell, comparing the olfactory world we live in with that of dogs or other animals who seem to experience a much richer array of smells. 

But while there’s no doubt that many animals can smell things that we can’t, consider the world of gastronomy. Many people are prepared to spend a lot of money and effort to eat and drink well. And most of what we think of as ‘tasting’ is actually smelling. We value smell very highly it seems!

When food or drink is in our mouth, we are only getting relatively limited information from the actual sense of taste: most of it is being detected by smell, through what is known as retronasal olfaction. This is where aroma molecules get to the olfactory receptors in the nose by the back of the mouth. Wine is the ultimate form of gastronomic pleasure, because people with the money to do it will happily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars pursuing the smell of fine wines. This suggests that the human sense of smell is very important to us. 

So what makes wine smell the way it does? There are a number of ways of unpacking this topic. 

Some of the aromatic compounds in wine are actually present in grapes, survive fermentation, and make it into the wine. But grape juice doesn’t smell much like wine, so this is a relatively small subset of what’s present in the wine. Others are made by the yeasts during fermentation from precursors present in the wine. Some are made de novo by the yeasts. And a few might come from the wood of a barrel the wine is aged in, or other microbes that grow in the wine. 

Whatever way they get there, wine is full of many aromatic compounds. It’s hard to know how many, but around 800-1000 seems to be a good guess. Not all of them are above the threshold level where suddenly we are able to smell them, or identify them, but might still be having an effect on the global smell of the wine. The concept of ‘threshold’ is important here. 

At the receptor level, we detect smells through a suite of some 400 different olfactory receptors, housed in olfactory receptor neurons in a patch of cells the size of a postage stamp in the back of our noses. The thing is that each of us has a different subset of these receptors, and as a result, we all have different thresholds for different aroma molecules. There are different sorts of thresholds, too. There’s the detection threshold, when we recognize that there is a smell there, and then there’s a recognition threshold, where we actually recognize what the smell is. Take a particular smell molecule at a specific concentration, and some people might smell this as a strong smell, others might sense it as a weak smell, and still, others might not smell it at all. 

“As we think about the smells we describe when we sniff a wine, we can’t dial down to single aroma molecules to explain these. Instead, we have to think about groups of molecules working together, both in combination, and also where one affects the perception of another through effects such as masking, or enhancement.”

Three Groups of Flavor Compounds

So what makes a wine smell the way it does? Sensory scientist Vincente Ferreira breaks the smell of wine up into a few categories, and this conceptual framework is a useful one. 

Ferreira states that wines don’t have a single characteristic aroma, but “rather they have a palette of different aromas, which are difficult to define and which surely are perceived differently by different people.”

He separates the various flavor compounds of wines into three different groups. As we think about the smells we describe when we sniff a wine, we can’t dial down to single aroma molecules to explain these. Instead, we have to think about groups of molecules working together, both in combination, and also where one affects the perception of another through effects such as masking, or enhancement.

The first group is the global “wine aroma,” the result of some 20 different aromatic chemicals that are present in all wines to make a global wine odor. Of these 20 aromas, just one is present in grapes (β-damascenone), with the rest being made by yeasts. These include higher alcohols (e.g. butyric, isoamylic, hexylic, phenylethyl), organic acids (acetic, butyric, hexanoic, octanoic, isovaerianic), ethyl esters from fatty acids, acetates and compounds such as diacetyl, and—of course—alcohol itself.

Alcohol is important here. As the level goes up it makes many of the aroma compounds less likely to leave the solution, and so higher alcohol wines tend to be less aromatic. Fruity compounds such as esters are effectively masked by higher levels of alcohol. 

The second group is known as ‘contributory compounds’ and this is another set of 16 compounds present in most wines, but at relatively low levels. Some of them are even present below the detection threshold for most people, but they have synergistic effects with other compounds even if we can’t smell them. These include volatile phenols (guaiacol, eugenol, isoeugenol, 2,6-dimethoxyphenol, 4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenol), ethyl esters, fatty acids, acetates of higher alcohols, ethyl esters of branched fatty acids, aliphatic aldehydes, branched aldehydes and vanillin and its derivatives.

Finally, in the third group, we have impact compounds, responsible for giving characteristic aromas to certain wines, even when they are present at very low concentrations. They can even be the molecules that give varietal identity to wines. For example, Sauvignon Blanc is very interesting as a grape variety because much of its characteristic aroma is believed to come from a small number of impact compounds, chiefly methoxypyrazines (of which the most significant is 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine) and three thiols (4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one [4MMP], 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol [3MH], and 3-mercaptohexyl acetate [3MHA]). 

Another group of importance is the monoterpenes, such as linalool, which is important in many white wines, such as Muscat. This has floral, citric, table grape aromas. Then there’s rose-cis oxide, which gives Gewürztraminer its sweet flowery, rose-petal aroma. A newly discovered one is rotundone, which gives pepperiness to Syrah, at incredibly tiny concentrations. 

But to make things even more complex, we have a concept called the nonvolatile wine matrix. This is where wine possesses constituents that don’t have any aromatic characteristics of their own, but they strongly influence the way that the various aromatic molecules present in wine are perceived. 

In an intriguing study Ferreira’s group took a range of red and white wines. They removed the aromatic fraction from each of the wines, but saved it. They then took the de-aromatized wine matrix of each wine and added back different aromatic fractions. Bizarrely, when a trained sensory panel examined these reconstituted wines they found that red wine matrix was combined with white wine volatiles, the panels described the resulting wine as smelling like a red wine. A similar effect occurred when red wine volatiles were added to a white wine matrix, and white, yellow, and tropical fruits all started appearing in judges’ tasting notes. The remarkable thing about this study is that it demonstrates that the nonvolatile matrix is having an important effect in actually modifying the perception of the volatile components of wine. 

It’s interesting to be able to isolate the different molecules from wine, and describe the smell of each. But this sort of reductionist approach is unlikely to help us understand the aroma of wine. It seems that it’s based on a complex interplay between the different olfactory molecules, all working in concert with each other, but also with other components of the wine, too. And then there’s the variability that comes from us, too, with our varied olfactory systems, and also our varied experience. All in all, it’s a fascinating subject – calling for lots of practice.

 


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As always, don’t hesitate to call us at 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for selection advice or assistance!

In case you missed it …. The High-Scoring 2019 DuMol designated vineyards are now in stock

Time flies, as this is the 24th 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 Chloe Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
GGWC 79.99 net item

Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points: “The 2019 Chardonnay Chloe comes from the Russian River, yet it shows an almost Sonoma Coast-like vibrancy and minerality. Deep stone fruits, brioche, honeysuckle, and flower oil notes all define the nose, and it’s beautifully balanced, medium to full-bodied, and incredibly textured, with a drop-dead gorgeous finish. This is another incredible Chardonnay from this estate that ranks with the crème de la creme of the vintage.”

Andy Smith Winemaker: “Our richest 2019 Chardonnay bottling, this wine seamlessly combines three low-yielding classic vineyards which effortlessly provide detail, nuance, power, and finesse. The concentration is offset by lilting acidity, which flickers and fades and provides a counterbalance to all this power. 
Deep and intense aromatics of nectarine, apricot, mint leaf, chamomile, and flint. The flavors are expressive and generous with wave upon wave of ripe stone fruits and lemon oil. Layered and expansive, the wine’s deep concentration builds through the palate to a rising finish of mineral-infused acidity and lingering notes of almond and honey. Serve at 58F – not too cold – and drink between 2022 and 2028.“

DuMol 2019 Ryan Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
GGWC 94.99 net item

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “Another Russian River cuvée, the 2019 Pinot Noir Jentoft Vineyard Ryan is a deeper ruby, translucent color and has a gorgeous array of black raspberry and cherry fruits supported by ample spice box, savory flowers, rose petals, and dried bouquet garni-like nuances. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and fleshy, with the more rounded, supple style of the vintage, it’s ideal for enjoying over the coming 7-8 years, probably longer, but there’s no need to delay gratification more than a year or two.”

Andy Smith Winemaker: “Grown on shallow hillside soils, the wine’s structure has a sharp, youthful edge that creates a pulsating electric character. The cool freshness of the air in this heavily forested site, surrounded by redwoods, translates into a multitude of savory nuances and sweet herbal scents in the wine’s aromas. This is a fascinating and delicious wine from a unique place – a great terroir. Dynamic, lifted tiny berry fruits dominate the aromas which are unmistakably coastal in style, at once cool, dark, and penetrating. There’s a deep fruit intensity to this wine, but it maintains a brightness and mineral focus that is unique to its site. All elements are pushing in the same direction: seamless, focused, and direct. Licorice, macerated cherries, and cassis glide across the palate. A lilting woodsy fragrance lingers. Drink between 2022 and 2032. “

DuMol 2019 Estate Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
GGWC 99.99 net item

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “Moving to the Pinot Noirs, the 2019 Pinot Noir DuMOL Estate Vineyard reveals a deep ruby hue to go with classic notes of ripe black cherries, sappy underbrush, sassafras, and spring flowers. Straight-up gorgeous on the palate as well, it’s medium to full-bodied and has a solid spine of acidity, wonderful depth of fruit, and a great, great finish. It has plenty of up-front appeal yet should cruise for a decade in cold cellars, if not longer.”

Andy Smith Winemaker: “Among my favorites of this vintage, our 2019 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir is an elegant wine that is long, sleek, and deeply expressive of this coastal ridgetop site. We conducted a strict parcel selection in the vineyard at harvest, then a secondary selection after ten months in barrel, to ensure only the finest fruit comprised this flagship bottling.  Over many vintages we have come to expect that this will be our most ageable Pinot bottling, due primarily to the high vine density planting format in the vineyard itself. The wine has both higher acidity and tannin giving great longevity and the concentration of fruit and texture is elevated because each vine has to ripen only a moderate amount of fruit. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, cassis, and the freshest possible raspberries – lifted, intense and elegant. Savory characters of thyme blossom and floral spice overlay a mineral base that is sleek, penetrating, and focused. You can feel the energy of the vines each time you come to the glass. Finishes with deep blackberry fruit and a dusty cocoa edge. Drink between 2022 and 2034. Enjoy a glass over an extended evening to fully appreciate the deep complexity inherent in one of our most site-driven wines. “

DuMoL 2019 Eddie’s Patch Syrah Russian River Valley
GGWC 94.99 net item

Vinous 96 Points: “The 2019 Syrah Eddie’s Patch shows the more savory, pungent site of Russian River Syrah. Blue/purplish fruit, sage, black pepper, licorice and menthol are front and center. The tannins are a bit prominent at this stage, so a few years in the cellar is probably a good idea.”


Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “I always love the Syrah from this team, and their 2019 Syrah Eddie’s Patch doesn’t disappoint, revealing a dense purple hue to go with Saint-Joseph-like bright blue fruits, crushed stone, bouquet garni, and bacon fat notes. It’s rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with enough tannins to warrant 2-3 years of bottle age. It will have 10-15 years of overall longevity.”

Andy Smith Winemaker: “Of the great Syrah vintages in recent memory – 2013, 2015 & 2016 spring to mind – 2019 undoubtedly stands atop the summit of quality. This is one of those rare wines in which vintage, season, and grape variety carved out a perfect equilibrium to form something truly profound.   For the first time, we have combined the finest parcels in our two long-term Syrah sources – Hoppe-Kelly & our Green Valley Estate – into a single thrilling wine of grand scale complexity. The resulting wine is simultaneously harmonious, complex, expansive, and ethereal.  The wine’s aromas are dark, pure, and irresistible: wild blackberries, spring flowers, graphite, lavender, and cured meat spring from the glass. There’s classic cool climate cracked black pepper and bay laurel. The wine is deeply fruited, chewy and succulent with dark berry fruit pastille and compote flavors. Despite its intensity and obvious power, the wine has a hi-tone brightness and finesse that carries it through to a long lingering finish of licorice spice. A great coastal Syrah. Drink between 2022 and 2034.“

SMALL AMOUNTS OF THE FOLLOWING DUMOL SUMMER RELEASES ARE  STILL AVAILABLE:

DuMol 2019 Syrah “Wild Mountainside” Russian River Valley 96 Points
DuMol 2019 Chardonnay “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley 98 Points
DuMol 2019 Pinot Noir “Wester Reach” Russian River Valley 96 Points

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Frank’s OWN Melis Family 2019 Cabernet is NOW in stock

Melis Family logo
I am starting off with some very exciting and less exciting news…The 2019 Melis Family is one of my best efforts to date, sadly… there is not much of it!  

Then the real bad news…There is NO 2020 vintage due to the Napa fire. That said, this release will sell very quickly!

Melis Family 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon G3 Rutherford
Napa Valley

GGWC 119.99 – LAST WEEK FOR SPECIAL PRICING $109.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code MELISFAMILY during checkout

The Wine: I am very proud to release our 2019 Melis Family Cabernet sourced from the G3 vineyard. The grapes were sourced from this famed vineyard in Rutherford at optimum ripeness and under amazing conditions. The 2019 vintage might be the BEST one we have produced to date. Our Melis Family 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon offers intense aromatic notes of chocolate, black currant and a touch of licorice. The wine is dense and full in body with remarkable richness, great length and a complex long but silky grained finish. This is a wine that should cellar well for 10+ years. Those who like to enjoy it now, I highly recommend decanting a few hours in advance. The 2019 Melis Family Cabernet  is a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Cabernet  Franc, 1.5% Petit Verdot, and 1% Merlot

Also, check out:
Melis Family 2020 Rose Of Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, made by Paul Lato

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

VERY LAST CALL for this very limited Casual (Wine) Encounter…


 

Herman Syrah is the “story” of tall tales, Wrangler Jeans, and bold wines crafted by Russell P. From. This winery has become a real head-turner since it was created a little over a decade ago. Russell is a real “Rhone Ranger” and that has not escaped the notice of numerous publications garnering many 94-97 point ratings and creating a real “cult-like” following. Casual Encounters takes its name from the orgiastic nature of its origins as a blend of small co- fermented lots. By giving up control and embracing game-day decisions during harvest, Casual Encounters best captures the lengths Russell will go in setting orthodoxy aside and letting flavor take full stage.

Herman Story 2019 GSM “Casual Encounters” Paso Robles
GGWC 59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code HERMANSTORY during checkout

More inky colored, the Casual Encounters checks in as 40% Mourvédre, 36% Syrah, 19% Grenache, 5% Carignan, and tiny amounts of Carignan and Tannat. Lots of mulled black fruits, smoked meat, barbecue, and peppery notes emerge from the glass. It’s full-bodied, super-rich, and concentrated, yet still stays light on its feet and beautifully balanced. It’s a classic, sweetly fruited, sexy wine to enjoy over the coming 5-7 years or so.

Winemaker Notes: That courtside seat wasn’t occupied, so why not? You grab caramel corn, violet-tinged drinks, and rosemary-laden hors d’oeuvres from waiters bearing platters. You slap five with the players after their soaring dunks. And right next to you, there’s an actress whose name you can’t recall, clad in a black truffle dress and blueberry sapphires. This is a good life. Until the kiss cam finds you. The crowd bellows. The actress looks your way. And you’ve had three too many raspberry daiquiris, so you lean in, hardly noticing her muscle-bound date on their way.

Also check out these other great Herman Story wines, including Magnums of Casual Encounters

I highly recommend looking at his wife’s Desparada 2019 Soothsayer Cabernet Blend ~ 95 Points ~

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for priority allocation.

An Amazing 95 Point & UNDER $65 Napa Cab


 
Kenefick Ranch Winery and Vineyard is owned by retired San Francisco neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas P. Kenefick, and his two children Caitlin and Chris Kenefick. In 1978 Dr. Kenefick acquired a 125-acre vineyard property next door to the Eisele Estate (Araujo, now owned by Chateau Latour). This vineyard was head pruned and dry farmed with old Italian varietals. Over the next 20 years these were replaced with Bordeaux varietals on vertical shoot positioning and drip irrigating for higher quality grapes. 95% of the grapes are sold to various wineries and only small quantities are produced from the estate.  Many great wineries source from this vineyard with great reviews!

Kenefick 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “Chris’s Cuvée” Estate
GGWC 64.99 net item
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code KENEFICK during checkout

This features a nice dark core of cassis and creamed plum notes laced with violet, graphite and juniper hints. The finish flows wonderfully, with the graphite edge extending as long as the fruit for lovely balance.

Vinous 95 Points: “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Chris’s Cuvée captures all of the intensity of this Calistoga site. Black fruit, leather, licorice, smoke, grilled herbs and chocolate all build in the glass. Ample and resonant, with tremendous richness the 2018 is positively stellar. Give the firm yet well-integrated tannins a bit of time to soften.” 

Winery Notes: “Heavier crop loads and a very cool growing season allowed for some ideal extended hang time. Perfect fall weather gave way to even ripeness patiently brought in throughout the valley. Baker’s chocolate, fine tobacco leaf, and a brooding dark fruit profile form an intense nose. Balanced tannin to oak ratios support the jammy and refined fresh berry profile.” 

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Winemaking is NOT Rocket Science… or is it? Let’s ask Jeff Bezos if we can fly with this one…

Caldwell Rocket Science

 
John Caldwell grew up in Napa into a family that ran a shoe business. John eventually turned one business into many more. Living in Napa and making money, he purchased 54 acres of land and had plans to develop some homes. Unfortunately, that backfired and now he was “stuck” with 54 acres of dirt. He had been on trips to France, and one thing led to another that he was going to start a vineyard. On one of his trips, he decided that the only way to get vines from France was to smuggle them into the country. With the help of some friends in New York and Canada, he started to bring in vines from Haut Brion. Unfortunately on his last of 5 trips, he got caught by customs agents. They wound up confiscating his last load, but John got lucky that via a lawyer friend he was released with a warning and a fine. His 4300 vines were in a barn in Napa and that started the success story that Caldwell Vineyard would become years later.

In the mid-late 90’s I met John and we tasted through some barrels, when he said, you know this is not “Rocket Science”! At that time, Philippe Melka was his winemaker, and the next day Melka asked him what that “blend” was all about that he made the day before. That said, John created “Rocket Science” under my eyes and a new brand was born. So many years later, I am still a big fan of this wine and his first retail account!

Caldwell 2019 “Rocket Science” Red Napa Valley
GGWC 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12  or more
Use code ROCKET during checkout

A voluptuous nose is dominated by black raspberry, black currant, ripe blueberries, black olive, cassis, clove, and white pepper. A raspberry attack leads into a full, juicy mouth of ripe plum and cherry. The structured cocoa tannins give way to a long finish of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Winemaker’s Notes: “Made exclusively of Caldwell Vineyard estate fruit, it’s an engineering feat combining art, science and a little fifth dimension magic for a heady ride through time and space. Bursting with dark matter tannins and full-throttle fruit flavors, it offers maximum taste velocity balanced by light, ethereal notes indicative of its earthbound Coombsville coordinates. Larger than life, it’s expansive on the palate with cranberry, pomegranate and blackberry-cinnamon fruit, it’s got plenty of integrated oak tannin, meaty Syrah-inspired spice, and mid-palate weight. You’d have to be a rocket scientist to find a better Napa wine at this price.”

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

TRB’S 98 Point Rated HOBEL 2019 Cabernets are NOW in stock, including another Inaugural Bottling!


 

The story of Hobel Wine Works began in 1998, when Cameron Hobel first met friend and winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown in Napa. Cameron was working as the Director of Business Development of a wine auction site and Thomas was working as Assistant Winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars. Their mutual love of great wine led to many shared dinners and glasses of wine, where they discussed the prospect of finding a project that would allow them to work together in producing a world-class wine. The opportunity finally arose eleven years later, with the premier release of the 2009 Hobel Cabernet. This is the TENTH release, the 2018 vintage crafted by Thomas Rivers Brown and will really wow you, it is AMAZING! We also have an INAUGURAL RELEASE with the new “THE BURL” Cabernet Sauvignon in the lineup.
 
Hobel 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon The Figure Napa Valley
$124.99 net item
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more – OK to mix with other Hobel wines
Use code HOBEL during checkout

Vinous 98 Points: “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon The Figure emerges from a site just across the road from the vineyard that informed early vintages at Hobel. Raspberry jam, blood orange, dried flowers, leather and scorched earth imbue the 2019 with tremendous character and nuance to match is driving personality. The 2019 is flat-out stunning”

Winery Notes: “We have worked with the Pozzan vineyard in Calistoga for six vintages and the 2019 is another step up in quality. The wine is much darker in color and, not surprisingly, the aromas are also of blue and black fruit and dark chocolate. The oak is beautifully integrated adding hints of resin, graphite, toast and coconut. The palate is extremely dense, with hints of ripe blackberries, boysenberries and Persian lavashak, enveloped by dusty fine-grained tannin. This is no doubt the best The Figure to date – a real powerhouse built for age.”

The Vintage: Starting with an abundance of Winter rain, which continued into May, the 2019 growing season was generous without being overly so at the Pozzan Vineyard. 2019 offered a return to a more centerline crop load. Through the perfectly dry summer months, temperatures remained warm, without excessive heat spikes. This consistency continued into the Fall where the fruit was allowed to hang as long as needed to gain full phenological maturity. This generous growing season is particularly advantageous for a rocky, hillside vineyard like Pozzan which typically reaches full maturity towards the end of October. The end result is a fully realized wine that possesses incredible fruit density, complexity and power.

Thomas Rivers Brown: “I might sound like a little bit of a broken record but, once again, the Pozzan vineyard produced fruit a touch better than the year before. Another year of vine age and a consistent growing season without extremes gave this wine an extra punch. Harvested in late October, The Figure is super dense and powerful in 2019 and continues to be the cornerstone for Hobel.

Hobel 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon The Birdseye (Larkmead) –
Napa Valley

$124.99 net item
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more – OK to mix with other Hobel wines
Use code HOBEL during checkout

 
Vinous 96 Points: ” A new wine in this range, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon The Birdseye emerges from a block in Larkmead. Deeply layered aromatics meld into a core of black fruit, with hints of gravel, spice and earthy nuances that develop later. The 2019 marries elegance with power. This stylish, complex Cabernet is fabulous.”

Jeb Dunnuck 95+ Points: “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon The Birdseye is terrific and certainly well worth seeking out. Coming from the Larkmead Vineyard, it has full-bodied aromas and flavors of red and black fruits, spring flowers, and tobacco leaf as well as good acidity, a pretty, focused, elegant texture, and enough structure to ensure a solid 20 years of longevity.”

Winery Notes: “Brand new to the lineup in 2019 is The Birdseye, from a beautiful block of Phillips Clone Cabernet (bud wood coming from an Oakville vineyard) from Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. The Calistoga sites we work with show more of a savory component in the wine and The Birdseye is amplified in this respect. The Birdseye has a bright crimson robe and exudes notes of cedar, walnut husk, cinnamon, bark, chocolate and plums. The medium weight mouthfeel has lots of punch. Bittersweet chocolate, cherries and a hint of leather dance across the palate. Right now, this wine seems to be a bit shy out of the gate but with several hours of air it really blossoms. We cannot wait to see this flesh out in the bottle over the next couple of years.”

The Vintage: The loam and gravel soils at Larkmead benefited well from the abundant Winter rains in 2019, giving the vines everything they needed to maximize nutrient uptake and provide them with abundant groundwater for the growing season. Larkmead is farmed all in-house, so the team there is intimately familiar with each block. Our block in 2019 was planted with a heritage Napa Valley clone sourced from one of the most prestigious sites in the Valley. Over the growing season, the crew worked to dial in the canopy development and cluster count. Going into the Fall, Larkmead showed why it’s some of the most cherished ground in Napa Valley. The vines looked balanced and poised for greatness. This fruit was picked on the night of October 15th and brought to the winery at dawn, where it was processed and transferred to the tank.

Thomas Rivers Brown Winemaker Notes: “We have worked with different blocks at Larkmead for several years now and when this block of Phillips Clone Cabernet became available, we immediately locked it in. Bottled as The Birdseye, it is a great first look at the potential of this block. The wine has complex aromatics of red fruits, tobacco and herbs and the palate continues that theme. We expect time in bottle to benefit this wine greatly, as right now it is a little shy compared to the two other 2019 bottlings.”

Click here or on the links above to order!
Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for priority allocation.