How Do You Make a Wine for the Ages?

How Do You Make a Wine for the Ages?

By SEAN P. SULLIVAN

“It’s like the holy grail, to make wines that age that you can enjoy 20, 30 or 40 years later,” says Rick Small, who founded Woodward Canyon Winery with his wife Darcey in Lowden, Washington in 1981. Since then, the pair have created some of Washington State’s most age worthy wines, with their children Jordan Dunn-Small and Sager Small recently taking the helm.

Many winemakers strive to create wines that stand the test of time. It’s a difficult endeavor that requires certain conditions in the vineyard and winery, some of which are beyond winemakers’ immediate control.

“The wine has to have the right amount of fruit, it has to have the right amount of acidity, and it has to have the right amount of tannin,” says Small. “That’s going to all want to be integrated with the alcohol. In order for a wine to be ageable, it needs to have all of those things in the right proportion: fruit, acid and tannin.”

Controlling the Rate of Oxidation

“At the end of the day what is aging? It’s a process of oxidation,” says Chris Figgins, president and second-generation winemaker at Leonetti Cellar in Walla Walla, Washington. To age over decades, a wine needs to have components that slow its oxidation and allow the wine’s elements to evolve in harmony. Tannins and acidity are two of the most important of these components. Tannins provide structure and add oxidative capacity. The more tannin, the slower a wine will oxidize. Acidity brings backbone and freshness to wine, but it also has an antioxidant effect, similar to how squeezing fresh lemon or lime onto guacamole keeps it from turning brown.

However, it’s not just simply a matter of having these components, but rather getting them in the right proportions.

“You can argue yes, the more tannin the better, the longer lived,” says Casey McClellan, who founded Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla in 1987, before retiring earlier this year. “But is the wine worth drinking at any point in its life?”

Vineyard Factors Affecting Ageability

Creating wines with the capacity to age starts at vineyard site selection.

“You want to be able to take a great site and leverage it into great wine,” says McClellan. “You need a place where you can control water status and stress level. You need vine health that you can then stress back to promote more concentration and character in the fruit.”

Certain grape varieties are prone to age better than others. Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo, for example, have naturally higher levels of tannins. And, while many think of red wines as more likely to age, some white wines can show profound aging potential.

“Look at Riesling,” says McClellan. “You can have searing acidity and 8%, 9% [or] 10% alcohol [by volume] and low residual sugar, and if the fruit is concentrated, you’ve got lovely 30-, 40-, 50-year-old wines.”

“I don’t believe that you can take weak wine and make it more interesting by aging it.” —Casey McClellan, Seven Hills Winery With the right site and grape varieties, it’s then a matter of shepherding fruit development by managing the canopy growth, crop load and berry development, irrigating as appropriate. The goal? To drive concentration.

“You really want to produce fruit that has concentration and character at the beginning of its life, so that it can evolve through that,” says McClellan. “I don’t believe that you can take weak wine and make it more interesting by aging it.”

The next step is deciding when to harvest. “First and foremost, it’s picking earlier to preserve acidity,” says Ben Smith, founder and winemaker at Cadence Winery in Seattle. “That acid balance is critical to aging.”
Smith waits until his fruit is just ripe, without allowing it to veer into overripe.

“With the Cabernet family—Franc and Sauvignon—I’m really just waiting until the mean, green flavors go away, and then we’re in the zone for picking,” says Smith. “At that point, acidity is still bright.”

McClellan agrees. “Watching my wines over decades, if you can pick right at the front end of the ripeness zone, it allows a wine to age longer and evolve.”

Fermentation Factors

After the fruit has been picked with enough natural acidity and tannin to give the wine potential to age, the next step is extraction. “Then, it’s a question of, how much of that are you going to extract?” says Figgins.
He’s referring to the combination of color, fruit and tannin pulled from the grapes. This is determined during fermentation, when yeast converts sugars into alcohol. Key to the process is oxygen, which is needed in precise amounts to promote healthy fermentation and tannin development.

“The goal is to get your tannins moving in the right direction, making longer chains through oxygen exposure early, and then shut it down and throttle it,” says Figgins. Fermentation temperature also plays a critical role.

“For Cabernet and Petit Verdot, it can make a pretty dramatic difference going up to 89°F or even 91°F, where you build a little more body into the wine,” says McClellan. “It allows you to build a little stronger wine that can last longer.” In contrast, for ageworthy Merlot and Malbec, he prefers to ferment between 85–87°F.

As fermentation nears completion, winemakers press the grapes. The more pressure they apply, the more tannin they can extract. “The key is to try and get your flavor components in balance with the tannic density,” says McClellan. “I like to have fruit supported by tannin and not have tannin be the dominant character of the wine with fruit underneath.”

Winemakers bring their own tastes and style to it, too. Some prefer greater amounts of tannin and others less.

“I don’t mind more prevalent tannins early in a wine’s life because I know those harder tannins up front mean a longer aging curve for the wine,” says Smith. “I don’t want ultrasoft tannins up front because they tend to go away more quickly.”

Aging at the Winery

Oxidation also occurs as wine evaporates from barrels over time. As this happens, tannin structures evolve, which impacts mouthfeel and the wine’s evolution. Oak’s compounds also provide additional stability that enhance a wine’s aging potential.

The need to maintain strict control over oxygen remains paramount during this stage. Too much oxidation too quickly, and the wine will collapse prematurely. Too little and it will taste undrinkable in the bottle. For tannins to develop and soften, a controlled amount of oxygen is required.

For less tannic wines, such as Grenache, oxygen is the enemy.

“I know guys who do very reductive winemaking, and their wines age well,” says Smith. “And then you have the death and resurrection winemakers, who oxidize fairly heavily up front but then lash it with a fair bit of [sulfur dioxide] as they go to the bottle. Some of those wines age well too.”

Certain varieties, like Petit Verdot, have more natural tannin and acidity, and can be added to blends to enhance aging potential. Winemakers can also include some juice pressed at higher pressures, where more tannin was extracted.

“It’s almost taking these components and using them just like you would seasoning in the kitchen,” says Small. “You can do this to get complexity in wines, but you can do the same thing to get more ageability in wine.”

Figgins says it’s hard to overstate the importance of balance and proportion to the longevity of a wine.
“To me it means that all of the components are relatively in harmony,” he says. “I have found that every time that is not the case, the wines don’t age as well.”

Does Alcohol Content or Vintage Make a Wine Age Longer?

“I wouldn’t say alcohol is irrelevant, but within the range of table wine, it’s a minor player in the ageability equation,” says McClellan. “I pay much more attention to tannin, acid levels and adequate flavor for the trajectory of the wine.”

It’s worth noting, though, that as ripeness—and therefore potential alcohol—increases in the vineyard, acidity drops. This can be adjusted at the winery.  Winemakers who aim to make long-lived wines must also strike a balance between aging potential while also delivering pleasure in the immediate term.

“When we do blending trials, I always tend toward a more tannic wine and my wife is like, ‘No, we have to sell this in a year and a half,’ ” says Smith, with a laugh. In this regard, some winemakers use a process called microoxygenation. This technique adds controlled amounts of oxygen into the wine, which advances development and makes the wine more enjoyable to consume in the near term by softening tannins.

However, this tends to decrease ageability.

Vintage also plays a significant part in a wine’s ability to age. “Sometimes [just] because you want to make a wine that ages well doesn’t mean that you’re going to [be able to] do it, because you’re going to have to work with what you get,” says Small.

Most winemakers believe cooler vintages generally create longer lived wines, in part due to the grapes’ higher natural acidity.  Figgins recalls how 2009, a hot vintage in Walla Walla, affected his wines’ alcohol content.

“I struggled in the blending to get a good balance that year. Still to this day, when I taste ’09s, they are just a little hot [with alcohol] to me. Customers love them because they are gushing with fruit. But I already see that wine on a more rapid aging curve than all the vintages surrounding it.”

Sulfites, Corks and Oak

Natural byproducts of the winemaking process, sulfites are added by some winemakers during fermentation, when a wine is in barrel or at bottling.  “Sulfites have a three-fold effect,” says McClellan. “First of all, they protect from microbial damage. Second, oxygen’s chemical reaction is retarded by sulfite addition. Finally, your tannin polymerization is inhibited.” Increasing sulfites can substantially enhance a wine’s ageability, by inhibiting the effects of oxygen and tannin development. Their antimicrobial properties also play a role.

“Squeaky cleanliness helps wines age really well,” says Figgins. “It really does.” A bottle’s closure also impacts aging potential by allowing more or less oxygen in. With newer, alternative and synthetic closures, winemakers can control the amount of oxygen transfer that occurs in the bottle, helping to accelerate or slow a wine’s development. Traditional natural cork also allows oxygen transfer, but with variability, as no two corks are alike. Oak aging, lees contact and residual sugar can also make wines oxidize less quickly.

How to Know if a Wine Will Age?

“The number one question I get from our consumers is, ‘When should I drink this?’ ” says Figgins.
It can be a difficult question to answer. “I don’t think you can point to any one factor,” says Smith. “It’s always the sum of the wine that makes the difference. Is there tannin? Is there acid? Is there fruit?” There is also a human factor in determining when a wine’s best to drink.

“I start playing 20 questions,” says Smith. “You have to know as much about the consumer as the wine to actually answer that question.” McClellan suggests an experiment to assess a wine’s ageability. Open a bottle, have a glass, and then come back and taste it at 24 and 48 hours. “If you can be 48 hours with some oxygen in there and the wine still has freshness, that’s a useful piece of data,” says McClellan. He notes that maintaining a temperature between 65–68℉ is important.

Figgins recommends another approach.

“The funnest part of drinking aged wine is not just saving your whole case for that magic year when it’s at its apogee,” he says. “Drink wine through its youth. Keep notes. Drink some at five years old. Drink some at 10. If you find where you feel like it’s in the sweet spot, then get after it.”
 


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!

A Decades-Old Champagne Style is Trending. Here’s Why.

A Decades-Old Champagne Style is Trending. Here’s Why.
By Kelly Magyarics

 
BOTTLES OF OAKED CHAMPAGNE. PHOTO BY: TOM ARENA
Champagne houses used to ferment their base wines in oak barrels, which enhanced age-ability and added richness, creaminess and notes of coconut and vanilla. This practice had all but ended by the 1950s, however. Most producers—with the exception of Krug and Bollinger—abandoned the practice in favor of stainless steel, a lower maintenance option that was easier to clean and decreased evaporation loss. But just like splayed furniture legs, geometric patterns and other hallmarks of mid-century design, oak-fermented Champagne is in style once again. “The breath that oak provides leads to a more robust…finished product and contributes to better aging and less variation during reasonable cellar times,” says Amy Troutmiller, wine consultant and founder and CEO of Common Fuel Consulting. She says if you relish well-aged Burgundy or Sauternes but tend to stick with youthful bubbly, popping open an oak-fermented bottle can be an eye-opening experience with hints of toasted brioche and lemon curd. A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CHAMPAGNE “Oak-fermented Champagnes benefit from additional micro-oxidation that gives them additional richness and depth,” says Mathieu Roland-Billecart, CEO of Champagne Billecart-Salmon. Its Brut Sous Bois, entirely vinified in oak, was first released in 2011. “They appeal to connoisseurs who seek a more gastronomic Champagne to pair with poultry, cheese and mushroom dishes,” he says. Indeed, the earthy depth and savory quality of these wines give them carte blanche at the table. Troutmiller enjoys sipping hers with smoked chicken, artichoke risotto with Époisses and fried oysters and clams. As with any barrel-aged wine, this style craves breathing room; using a decanter will allow it to fully express its complexity. HERE ARE SOME “WOOD-AGED” BUBBLY SUGGESTIONS: Billecart Sous Bois Champagne 92 Pts WS – Fermented and matured in wood before bottling, this Champagne has an extra layer of complexity and richness. It still keeps the house’s dry and mineral character while adding riper spice and lime flavors.  En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blanc 95 Pts:  “The pale straw color and very subtle sparkling appearance of this wine, veil what lies beneath. Aromas of warm butter croissant, lemon curd, baked apple, and dried honeycomb give the impression you just walked into a French bakery. Toasty and doughy flavors paired with tart citrus fruit and subtle nuttiness convey the maturity and complexity of a wine developing though lees aging. On the palate, these rich flavors are layered upon each other in a savory mille-feuille of structured decadence. Silky effervescence provides the textural background for an elevated acidity to pierce through the gravity of this wine which perfectly expresses the ethos of En Tirage.” – Desmond Echavarrie, Master Sommelier Moussé Fils, Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Perpetuelle L’Or d’Eugéne (NV) France   Robert Parker 94 Points: “A blend of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir drawn from a solera established in 2003. Wafting from the glass with a deep and complex bouquet of golden orchard fruit, honeycomb, mirabelle plum, candied peel and fresh pastry, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, with a rich and sapid core of fruit, lively acids and a delicate pinpoint mousse.” The NV Brut Blanc de Noir L’Or d’Eugène Perpétuelle is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir based on 2018, plus reserve wines. Sweet, perfumed aromatics immediately convey a feeling of sensuality and exoticism. Mirabelle plum, rose petal, spice and mint are all beautifully lifted. Soft, silky and open-knit, the L’Or d’Eugene is a fabulous choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years. The fruit profile of the red grapes is front and center. Dosage is 3.5 grams per liter.  
 

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!

 

Sorry, Last call for this Casual (Wine) Encounter… VERY LIMITED!

Casual Encounter 19

 

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. DRINK NOW: Decant for 45 minutes CELLAR: Now through 6-8 Years

Also check out these other great Herman Story wines

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

Blind Tasting Winner, a real surprise outcome and you’ll love the pricing even better!


 

Our last tasting of 2021 concluded with a lineup of amazing Pinot Noirs. The most astonishing thing was the outcome.  In all the years of blind tastings we never had a unanimous decision.


The line up included the following wines:

Paul Lato “Victor Francis” 95 Points
Dragonette “Sanford & Benedict” 96 Points
Brewer Clifton “Hapgood” 98 Points
Rivers Marie Occidental 97 Points
DuMol “Ryan” 96 Points
Lucia “Soberanes” 96 Points
Cattleya “Belly of the Whale” 97 Points
Roar “Rosella’s” 95 Points
Peay “Pomarium” 94 Points
Ernest “Cleary Freestone Ranch” 95 Points

THE WINNER:  ERNEST CLEARY FREESTONE RANCH
Second place:  Cattleya “Belly of the Whale” 97 Points
Third place tie: DuMol “Ryan” 96 Points
Third place tie: Paul Lato “Victor Francis” 95 Points

Ernest 2019 Pinot Noir Cleary Freestone Ranch, Sonoma Coast
Retail 64.00 — GGWC 59.99 
SPECIAL PRICING 54.99 on 12 SOLID (CALL IN YOUR ORDER TO RECEIVE SPECIAL PRICE)

Well structured and nicely concentrated, this outstanding medium to full-bodied wine accents its core of focused red-cherry flavors with subtle ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg that add attractive complexity and interest. Made with 30% whole clusters in the fermenting vat and aged in 38% new French barrels, it should be best from 2025

The Vineyard: Cleary Freestone Ranch encompasses the 14 acres of Ernest’s vines in foggy Freestone Valley. Only 7 miles from the Pacific, it is one of the coldest areas in all of west Sonoma Coast with the marine layer lingering well into mid-day and returning late afternoon. Goldridge soil with clay peppering closer to Salmon Creek. The extremely cool climate allows for extended hang time before harvest delivering deep complexity.

Winery Notes: The workhorse blocks of our 14 acres of PN in Freestone Valley lead a beautiful and juicy attack on this wine. Peppered with a little bit of stems to balance out its naturally high acidity, this is one of the most complete wines we’ve made off of our land. The organic farming practices are paying off, lending naturally low yields as the vines find their balance without much intervention from us. Some of the best chemistry and fermentation curves I’ve seen off of these blocks. Aged in mostly 500L puncheons with some new 228L barrels for 18 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Only 150 cases were produced!

Winemaker Notes: “Garnet in color revealing focused red cherry, plums, wild bramble, and undisturbed forest floor on the nose. The cool growing season delivers supple tannins framing bright, natural acidity and a purity of fruit traced with ginger and nutmeg.”

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

Welcome to 2022 – “Wine Sale”

 
I hope the Holiday Season was rewarding for you! But just in case you forgot to order that special bottle of wine for a friend, colleague or family member, it is still not too late! Please call or email me and we’ll rush it out on your behalf. Today, all wines are 10% off, use code WELCOME22 during checkout Visit GoldenGateWineCellars.com to make your selections! Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation!

Happy New Year!

New Year
 
Here’s a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our
friends, far and near.
The past is a bright dream; may our friends remain faithful and clear
May you fill 2022 with new adventures, accomplishments, learnings, and …
some wine.


*Happy New Year now and always!*

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING

 
Dear Friends,

Another year comes to an end, and what a year it has been.  Many ups and downs around the world, supply chain issues (which yours truly experienced plenty of).  But I am not complaining.  I am a lucky man, a man who made a hobby into a profession and I could not have done it without you!  So a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I also could not have done it without the support of my lovely wife Crystal and daughters Milayna and Angelina.  I look forward to working with you again in 2022 and beyond.

Next year will be even more challenging, as not too many Napa or Sonoma wineries produced red wines, but I hope that those big Cab lovers will be open minded and look at wines from Paso, Santa Barbara etc.   A big bold Syrah goes equally well with that steak. A nice GSM or Grenache pairs nicely with your pork chop or pasta marinara. 

I want to wish you and your family all the best for 2022, most of all great health!

A humbled St. Frank, your Patron Saint of (soft) Tannins

A Gold Rush Era Wine at Gold Rush Prices

 

James Skinner grew up in Scotland and became an engineer. In 1842 he brought his wife, Jessie, and oldest son, James Jr., to Massachusetts. Like many American immigrants, he made his way west during the Gold Rush, starting near Coloma where gold was discovered, then moving up the streams and rivers of the low Sierra foothills. Eventually, James did well enough to buy land and create Skinner Ranch. The ranch ran along a well-traveled road that later became the Pony Express Trail (now Green Valley Road). In 1861, he began making good use of the transportation thoroughfare, planting vineyards and founding the J. Skinner Native Wine and Brandy Co., one of the first commercial vineyards in California, and by 1883, one of the largest. James also built a multi-story, cutting-edge distillery with a boiler room powered by a six-horsepower engine. J. Skinner Winery operated into the early 20th century. James was also a benefactor of his community, supporting his neighbors and donating land for public use, including the plots where the current Rescue fire station and post office now stand. The original Skinner Ranch was located in what is now known as the town of Rescue. In the 1860s, it was named Skinners, California and remains an unincorporated township that still appears on most maps.

Skinner 2019 Grenache, El Dorado
GGWC 29.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code SKINNER during checkout

The 2019 Skinner Grenache offers up a very intense aroma of kirsch, licorice and black stone fruits on the nose. The wine is very aromatic throughout the lush medium-full bodied and round palate, offering layers of bright and ripe well-structured fruit flavors. The wine is gorgeous, showing a little more of a perfumy side of this varietal, but also has a very solid flesh structured backbone. This is a wine that is drinking well now, and should do so for a good 6-8 years.

Winery Notes: ”Our Estate Grenache perfectly defines the concept of “finesse”. This is largely due to our Stoney Creek ranch in Fair Play producing wines of such lilting character, and how well it marries with the sturdy tannins and intense fruit of our Green Valley ranch in Rescue. A strikingly translucent garnet, true as ever to the varietal, giving way to a nose of hibiscus, cherries and cream, clove and candied orange peel. Electrifyingly juicy across the palate, building into layers of supple, persistent texture. Grenache is finicky – not wanting to be overwrought, nor does it like to be under-realized. Made up of numerous small lots and varying clonal material, picking at absolutely perfect ripeness is key. The fruit is meticulously hand- sorted ensuring gentle handling and careful tannin management. We employ significant amounts of whole cluster, and handle our native fermentations with the remontage technique; gentler on the berries, but aggressively more aerobic for the juice, encouraging high CO2 production which both protects and bolstersour aromatic profile.”

WS 93 Points: “Vivid, sunbaked fruit flavors and a great structure of moderate acidity and tannins balance this wine out beautifully on a high level. Blackberry and raspberry notes mingle with hints of cedar, clove and black pepper for a tasty complexity”

Side note: Grenache has all kinds of iterations, and is one of the most widely planted wine grape varieties in the world. Believed to have originated in Northern Spain before migrating to France, eventually finding a cozy home in Southern Rhône in the 19th century. Considered a late-ripening varietal, Grenache loves a warm, dry climate and rocky soils making El Dorado County a perfect fit! At Skinner, Grenache is a big part of our legacy and continues to be a major part of our production today.

Also check out: Skinner 2020 Grenache Blanc El Dorado County

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

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Very Last Call for New Year’s Eve Bubbly

holiday champagne
 
We can still overnight you some bubbly for New Year’s. Please CALL US at 415.337.4083 or 415.640.6700 before NOON PST and we’ll get it out today!
With the holidays fast approaching, here are a few bubbly suggestions that will please both your palate as well as your wallet! 

Henri Billiot Rosé Champagne NV, Reims France
RETAIL 74.99 –  GGWC 69.99 net item

Champagne BILLIOT has existed since 1937, owned by Mr. Louis Billiot who then separated it between his descendants, brothers and sisters of Henri Billiot. But it was 1960 that the Champagne H Billiot & Fils was established by Henri himself, who invented and created the cellars at 1 place de la Fontaine and was later on managed by Mr. Serge Billiot who developed the reputation of their wines and diversified the range and imagined their Special Cuvées. Today, it is now managed by Laetitia Billot, proud to be the 5th Generation who is in charge of the management of the exploitation, production and development of their wines after 18 years of family work. The Billiot cellars dominate the main square of Ambonnay, one of the grand cru villages of the Montagne de Reims, a region famous for its Pinot Noir, the dominant grape of the Billiot wines. The wines are fermented in enamel-lined steel vats, aged in old oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation is blocked, as the wines are already quite rich due to the maturity of the vines. The wines are neither fined nor filtered.

Vinous 93 Points: “The NV Brut Rosé is a knock-out. A Champagne of notable intensity, Billiot’s Rosé possesses tremendous richness and power. Sweet red berry fruit, kirsch, rose petal and mind infuse this deeply-colored Rosé with tons of flavor. This is an especially heady, vinous style built on serious texture, with Pinot Noir very much front and center.”

Wine Spectator 93 Points: “Rich and mouthwatering, with fragrant grilled nut and lime blossom on the nose layered with notes of pureed raspberry, kumquat, ground cardamom and graphite. There’s opulence here, but it’s well-checked and balanced by a firm spine of acidity and a salty streak of mineral that shows on the finish. Disgorged June 2020. Drink now through 2025.”

Moussé Fils, Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Perpetuelle L’Or d’Eugéne (NV) France
RETAIL 65.00 — GGWC 61.99 net item

Located in Vallee de la Marne in the village of Cuisles, Jonquery, Châtillon-sur-Marne

The Story: The Moussé family has been living in the Marne river valley as growers from father to son since 1629 and as winemakers for 4 generations. They came to Cuisles in 1880, cultivating vines and selling the grapes to the large champagne houses. Born in 1896, Eugène Moussé first took the same step. Later in the 1920’s, when he got tired of the ever-fluctuating grape price and fed up with his dependency on the whims of the buyers, he became one of the first two growers of the canton to start vinifying his own Champagne. The first bottling happened in 1923, which he started commercializing in 1926.

Sales were developing until the 1939 conflict. The 2nd world war endangers all Eugène’s hard work, as he tragically died in the Neuengamme concentration camp in 1945. His wife Suzanne bravely carried on until their son Edmond had recovered and came back from the same camp where he was also deported. In 1947 son Edmond came back from Neuengamme concentration camp. From then, the Champagne Moussé Fils adventure took on a new lease of life. Edmond was a remarkable wine enthusiast and connoisseur. He not only preserved the family traditions, but also took the quality of the wine to a whole new level. Sadly, he got ill and passed away in 1990, which means he never got the chance to keep expanding the company with his son Jean Marc, who joined him on the estate.

The NV Brut Blanc de Noir L’Or d’Eugène Perpétuelle is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir based on 2018, plus reserve wines. Sweet, perfumed aromatics immediately convey a feeling of sensuality and exoticism. Mirabelle plum, rose petal, spice and mint are all beautifully lifted. Soft, silky and open-knit, the L’Or d’Eugene is a fabulous choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years. The fruit profile of the red grapes is front and center. Dosage is 3.5 grams per liter.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “A blend of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir drawn from a solera established in 2003. Wafting from the glass with a deep and complex bouquet of golden orchard fruit, honeycomb, mirabelle plum, candied peel and fresh pastry, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, with a rich and sapid core of fruit, lively acids and a delicate pinpoint mousse.”

En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blanc, Beckstoffer Napa Valley  
–GGWC 49.99 net item —
SPECIAL OFFER TODAY ONLY!!! 10% OFF when you buy 6 bottles and 15% OFF on a FULL case (You’ll have to CALL ME for the SPECIAL PRICING, as it is NOT available online!!) 

When you think you’ve seen (tasted) it all, something else “pops” up. The Beckstoffer family has been growing some of the most amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros for years and my old friend Don Baumhefner owner of the Elusive Chateau Beaux Hauts Bubbly produced one of the best bubblies to ever come from California. He just released his recently disgorged 2010 En Tirage “Blanc de Blancs” sparkling wine, sorry cannot call it “Champagne” here, but hey, this is worthy of being called Champagne in my book!  Only 322 cases were produced, so this one will go very quick!  For those sensitive ones, only 12% ABV

“The pale straw color and very subtle sparkling appearance of this wine, veil what lies beneath. Aromas of warm butter croissant, lemon curd, baked apple, and dried honeycomb give the impression you just walked into a French bakery. Toasty and doughy flavors paired with tart citrus fruit and subtle nuttiness convey the maturity and complexity of a wine developing though lees aging. On the palate, these rich flavors are layered upon each other in a savory mille-feuille of structured decadence. Silky effervescence provides the textural background for an elevated acidity to pierce through the gravity of this wine which perfectly expresses the ethos of En Tirage.”  – Desmond Echavarrie, Master Sommelier.

Click on the links for some other bubbly suggestions:
Colin 2012 Grand Cru Champagne
A. Margaine Champagne Premier Cru “Le Brut” 93 Points
Laherte Frères NV Ultradition Extra Brut Champagne
Dosnon Rose Brut Récolte, Champagne France
Thienot Rose Champagne NV Reims, France
Stéphane Coquillette Carte d’Or Brut Champagne 92 Points
Gonet-Médeville 1er Cru Cuvée Tradition Champagne 93 Points
Clotilde Brut “Grand-Cru” Champagne, France
Cazals 2009 Champagne Millesime 94 Points
Andre Robert Champagne “Extra Brut” Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil
Billecart Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne
Monthuys Champagne NV Brut, 750ml 
Monthuys Champagne Brut NV in MAGNUM
Carboniste 2020 Rose of Pinot Sparkling
Allimant Laugner Crémant Rosé d’Alsace

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

Apocalypse, booze and Christmas: An ancient ABC

Apocalypse, booze and Christmas: An ancient ABC

By Matthew Robert Anderson, Affiliate Professor, Theological Studies, Concordia Montreal; Research Associate, University of Nottingham UK, Concordia University
Contributed by National Post

For consumers of festive beverages, the news is bad: this holiday season, Guinness may not be on tap and glass for bottling wine is scarce. Climate disasters, like British Columbia’s floods, have further weakened already troubled supply chains. In the United Kingdom, seasonal “booze trains” are being pressed into service to prevent empty shelves. Facing shortages of everything from turkeys to toys, prioritizing beer and bubbly shows the strong link between Christmas and alcohol.

It’s a link that goes back to the beginning of the holiday. Although early Christian writings don’t indicate when Jesus was born, his conception became associated with the spring equinox. Assuming a nine-month pregnancy, Christians began to mark the birth on Dec. 25.

As it happened, a tipsy, somewhat scandalous celebration already ran from Dec. 17 to 23. Ancient descriptions of Saturnalia — a Roman holiday in honour of the god Saturn — sound surprisingly familiar: gift-giving, social gatherings and excessive drinking. Seneca the Younger (died 65 CE) wrote: “It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of the city is in a bustle.” The festival also emphasized social reversals, for instance when the enslaved were served a meal as if they were temporarily the masters.

The story that Christmas was deliberately invented to “Christianize” Saturnalia sometimes circulates but is not historically accurate. Instead, as Christianity became the Empire’s religion and Saturnalia was suppressed, midwinter revelry transferred organically from one holiday to the other.

During the Middle Ages dancing and drinking were so synonymous with Christmas that English Puritans famously banned it from 1644-59. A preacher of the day compared Christmas to “the sacrifices of Bacchus,” the ancient god of wine.
 
Yet amid the winter revelries, stories about justice and a better world continued. Impoverished wassailers demanded access to food and shelter, at least for an evening.

 

Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past
soar over the town. (Shutterstock)

In his 1843 A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens and his famous character Scrooge were part of another re-invention of the holiday. In The Battle for Christmas, author Stephen Nissenbaum describes how Victorian entrepreneurs like Dickens and his 20th-century successors domesticated the season, building today’s emphases on children — and mass consumption.

Nissenbaum maintains that adult merrymaking, over-drinking and the whiffs of scandal at Christmas parties and New Year’s celebrations echo Christmas’s bacchanalian past.

Thanks to pop culture, the festival remains linked with liquor. In 2016, a social media post went viral with a Hallmark Christmas movie drinking game. Scorecards keep track of cliché moments to down a drink: when two love interests kiss, when it begins to snow and, notably, when some Scrooge has their “Christmas conversion.”

All Scrooge-types

Despite the commercialization of Christmas, the focus on inverting rich and poor hasn’t disappeared. Dickens said A Christmas Carol was “raising the Ghost of an Idea” about social reform. Miserly Scrooge is frightened into facing how caring about others is the essence of the holiday.

Like all Scrooge-types since, from Dr. Seuss’s Grinch through Elf’s Walter Hobbs to Candace Cameron Bure in Hallmark’s Let It Snow, the original Scrooge repents of his anti-humanity stance.

To show he will put people above profits, Scrooge hosts a Christmas feast for his abused employee, Bob Cratchit and family. Scrooge pours Cratchit a hot cup of an intoxicating drink called the “Smoking Bishop”. In contemplating his death, Scrooge improves his life, and a celebratory toast is not far behind.

Apocalypticism

As a New Testament scholar and historian, I cannot help but think of another ancient narrative that used visions of impending calamity to improve present systems.

Apocalypticism was an ancient Jewish movement to which Jesus subscribed. It drew on Hebrew traditions such as Isaiah 55’s vision of the end of time. In this awaited post-apocalyptic world, the poor buy fine wine “without money,” and live forever in a realm of justice and peace where the social order is as reversed as a permanent Saturnalia.
 

An nativity illustration from an
old German Bible. (Shutterstock)

I’ve asked before whether Dickens was perhaps inspired by one of Jesus’s parables. I’ve also written about pairing the qualities of a mimosa with the anticipatory fervour in early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic texts.
 
These ancient passages illustrate the long-held hope that cataclysmic futures might bring more equitable presents, which early Christians believed began with the first Christmas.  

Alcohol is water-thirsty

This year, apocalypse, booze, and Christmas come together yet again amid overlapping environmental and social crises. At the climate talks in Glasgow, COP26 Scotch was hand-bottled “within a stone’s throw of the negotiations.” The Scotch Whisky Association used the limited edition to showcase its “sustainability commitments.”

Alcohol is water-thirsty; distillers, brewers and winemakers are aware of its environmental impact. Brewing a pint of beer requires almost 150 litres of water, wine about two-thirds that amount. One of the reasons the Hebrew scriptures refer to wine more than beer is that ancient Palestine was a water-starved area where wine production made more sense.

Dickens knew, as scholars of the humanities know, that stories shape societies. Facing our own hour of darkness, Dickens’ “Ghost of an Idea” and his archetypal tale of a last-minute conversion to the greater good is more relevant than ever.

Like Scrooge, our political and corporate leaders have a choice: whether to put people above profits, or to think only of the balance sheet. As climate scientists have been saying for a long time, it is the last stroke of 12.

While shelves empty and the “booze trains” run, humanity’s ancient midwinter dreams of equality and justice still wait.

 

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!

Merry Christmas!

“Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.”
– Tom Baker

 
As I look at the ornaments on my Christmas tree on this Christmas Day, I am reminded of the gifts of love each of you have given me with your continued support and friendship this year. 

In the immortal words of Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, “Here’s to us all! God bless us every one!”

Merry Christmas!

Need a Last Minute Gift for a Special Someone on Your List?


 

Christmas Eve is a time for singing carols, decorating the Christmas tree, drinking hot chocolate, eating Christmas cookies, and wrapping and buying last-minute presents!

If you’re still looking for the perfect last minute gift, why not send a Golden Gate Wine Cellars Gift Certificate?

From $25 to $1000 A Golden Gate Wine Cellars Gift Certificate is sure to please anyone (over 21) on your shopping list!

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

GET YOUR BUBBLY FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE NOW!

holiday champagne
With the holidays fast approaching, here are a few bubbly suggestions that will please both your palate as well as your wallet! 

Henri Billiot Rosé Champagne NV, Reims France
RETAIL 74.99 –  GGWC 69.99 net item

Champagne BILLIOT has existed since 1937, owned by Mr. Louis Billiot who then separated it between his descendants, brothers and sisters of Henri Billiot. But it was 1960 that the Champagne H Billiot & Fils was established by Henri himself, who invented and created the cellars at 1 place de la Fontaine and was later on managed by Mr. Serge Billiot who developed the reputation of their wines and diversified the range and imagined their Special Cuvées. Today, it is now managed by Laetitia Billot, proud to be the 5th Generation who is in charge of the management of the exploitation, production and development of their wines after 18 years of family work. The Billiot cellars dominate the main square of Ambonnay, one of the grand cru villages of the Montagne de Reims, a region famous for its Pinot Noir, the dominant grape of the Billiot wines. The wines are fermented in enamel-lined steel vats, aged in old oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation is blocked, as the wines are already quite rich due to the maturity of the vines. The wines are neither fined nor filtered.

Vinous 93 Points: “The NV Brut Rosé is a knock-out. A Champagne of notable intensity, Billiot’s Rosé possesses tremendous richness and power. Sweet red berry fruit, kirsch, rose petal and mind infuse this deeply-colored Rosé with tons of flavor. This is an especially heady, vinous style built on serious texture, with Pinot Noir very much front and center.”

Wine Spectator 93 Points: “Rich and mouthwatering, with fragrant grilled nut and lime blossom on the nose layered with notes of pureed raspberry, kumquat, ground cardamom and graphite. There’s opulence here, but it’s well-checked and balanced by a firm spine of acidity and a salty streak of mineral that shows on the finish. Disgorged June 2020. Drink now through 2025.”

Moussé Fils, Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Perpetuelle L’Or d’Eugéne (NV) France
RETAIL 65.00 — GGWC 61.99 net item

Located in Vallee de la Marne in the village of Cuisles, Jonquery, Châtillon-sur-Marne

The Story: The Moussé family has been living in the Marne river valley as growers from father to son since 1629 and as winemakers for 4 generations. They came to Cuisles in 1880, cultivating vines and selling the grapes to the large champagne houses. Born in 1896, Eugène Moussé first took the same step. Later in the 1920’s, when he got tired of the ever-fluctuating grape price and fed up with his dependency on the whims of the buyers, he became one of the first two growers of the canton to start vinifying his own Champagne. The first bottling happened in 1923, which he started commercializing in 1926.

Sales were developing until the 1939 conflict. The 2nd world war endangers all Eugène’s hard work, as he tragically died in the Neuengamme concentration camp in 1945. His wife Suzanne bravely carried on until their son Edmond had recovered and came back from the same camp where he was also deported. In 1947 son Edmond came back from Neuengamme concentration camp. From then, the Champagne Moussé Fils adventure took on a new lease of life. Edmond was a remarkable wine enthusiast and connoisseur. He not only preserved the family traditions, but also took the quality of the wine to a whole new level. Sadly, he got ill and passed away in 1990, which means he never got the chance to keep expanding the company with his son Jean Marc, who joined him on the estate.

The NV Brut Blanc de Noir L’Or d’Eugène Perpétuelle is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir based on 2018, plus reserve wines. Sweet, perfumed aromatics immediately convey a feeling of sensuality and exoticism. Mirabelle plum, rose petal, spice and mint are all beautifully lifted. Soft, silky and open-knit, the L’Or d’Eugene is a fabulous choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years. The fruit profile of the red grapes is front and center. Dosage is 3.5 grams per liter.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “A blend of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir drawn from a solera established in 2003. Wafting from the glass with a deep and complex bouquet of golden orchard fruit, honeycomb, mirabelle plum, candied peel and fresh pastry, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, with a rich and sapid core of fruit, lively acids and a delicate pinpoint mousse.”

En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blanc, Beckstoffer Napa Valley  
–GGWC 49.99 net item —
SPECIAL OFFER TODAY ONLY!!! 10% OFF when you buy 6 bottles and 15% OFF on a FULL case (You’ll have to CALL ME for the SPECIAL PRICING, as it is NOT available online!!) 

When you think you’ve seen (tasted) it all, something else “pops” up. The Beckstoffer family has been growing some of the most amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros for years and my old friend Don Baumhefner owner of the Elusive Chateau Beaux Hauts Bubbly produced one of the best bubblies to ever come from California. He just released his recently disgorged 2010 En Tirage “Blanc de Blancs” sparkling wine, sorry cannot call it “Champagne” here, but hey, this is worthy of being called Champagne in my book!  Only 322 cases were produced, so this one will go very quick!  For those sensitive ones, only 12% ABV

“The pale straw color and very subtle sparkling appearance of this wine, veil what lies beneath. Aromas of warm butter croissant, lemon curd, baked apple, and dried honeycomb give the impression you just walked into a French bakery. Toasty and doughy flavors paired with tart citrus fruit and subtle nuttiness convey the maturity and complexity of a wine developing though lees aging. On the palate, these rich flavors are layered upon each other in a savory mille-feuille of structured decadence. Silky effervescence provides the textural background for an elevated acidity to pierce through the gravity of this wine which perfectly expresses the ethos of En Tirage.”  – Desmond Echavarrie, Master Sommelier.

Dosnon Rose Brut Récolte, Champagne Avirey-Lingy
Côtes de Bars France
 
GGWC 69.99 net item

La Maison Dosnon is located in Avirey-Lingy, in the heart of a unique territory called La Côte des Bars, located in the southern part of the Champagne region, the vineyards are situated on rolling hills of hard limestone soils like Chablis. This terroir, dominated by clay-limestone soils, inspires particularly rich aromas and flavors in the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which acquire an exceptional finesse and fruitiness as they age.

Their knowledge of the most suitable terroirs for this wine, as well as discerning selection of grapes and crus, allows them  to craft complex and enticing wines.

The base wine for the Récolte Rose starts as a Blanc de Noirs of Pinot Noir with an addition of Pinot Meunier giving it its salmon-pink hue. Pinot Meunier is not as common in the Côte des Bar as Pinot Noir but Davy feels that it brings a lovely spice and fruit to his Rosé. With the base wine fermented and aged in used Puligny-Montrachet barrels and a minimum of 2 years aging in bottle with a dosage of 5g/L (the same as the Récolte Noire) it bears all the hallmarks of the Donson style – pure, focused, intensely mineral but with a clear, spicy, red-fruit and orange peel lift to the flavors.

Wine Spectator 94 Points: “Delicate spice, floral and graphite aromas lead to flavors of white peach, fresh ginger, biscuit and lemon peel in this harmonious rosé, with a firm and chalky frame. Offers a lasting, mouthwatering finish. 250 cases imported.”

Vinous 94 Points: “Light, bright orange. Redcurrant, orange zest, jasmine and a hint of dusty minerals on the seductively perfumed nose. Juicy, vibrant and taut, offering powerful, spice- and mineral-accented flavors of red berries and candied orange peel. Silky and expansive on a finish resounding with orange and mineral notes.”

Click on the links for some other bubbly suggestions:
Colin 2012 Grand Cru Champagne
A. Margaine Champagne Premier Cru “Le Brut” 93 Points
Laherte Frères NV Ultradition Extra Brut Champagne
Dosnon Rose Brut Récolte, Champagne France
Thienot Rose Champagne NV Reims, France
Stéphane Coquillette Carte d’Or Brut Champagne 92 Points
Gonet-Médeville 1er Cru Cuvée Tradition Champagne 93 Points
Clotilde Brut “Grand-Cru” Champagne, France
Cazals 2009 Champagne Millesime 94 Points
Andre Robert Champagne “Extra Brut” Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil
Billecart Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne
Monthuys Champagne NV Brut, 750ml 
Monthuys Champagne Brut NV in MAGNUM
Carboniste 2020 Rose of Pinot Sparkling
Allimant Laugner Crémant Rosé d’Alsace

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 TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY GOODIES OUT

Bevan Cellars Outdoor Lifestyle
IN ORDER FOR YOUR GIFTS TO ARRIVE, WE NEED TO SHIP 1 or 2 DAY AIR!
Get in touch
Get in touch

 


 

With the holidays fast approaching, here are a few bubbly suggestions that will please both your palate as well as your wallet! 

Henri Billiot Rosé Champagne NV, Reims France
RETAIL 74.99 –  GGWC 69.99 net item

Champagne BILLIOT has existed since 1937, owned by Mr. Louis Billiot who then separated it between his descendants, brothers and sisters of Henri Billiot. But it was 1960 that the Champagne H Billiot & Fils was established by Henri himself, who invented and created the cellars at 1 place de la Fontaine and was later on managed by Mr. Serge Billiot who developed the reputation of their wines and diversified the range and imagined their Special Cuvées. Today, it is now managed by Laetitia Billot, proud to be the 5th Generation who is in charge of the management of the exploitation, production and development of their wines after 18 years of family work. The Billiot cellars dominate the main square of Ambonnay, one of the grand cru villages of the Montagne de Reims, a region famous for its Pinot Noir, the dominant grape of the Billiot wines. The wines are fermented in enamel-lined steel vats, aged in old oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation is blocked, as the wines are already quite rich due to the maturity of the vines. The wines are neither fined nor filtered.

Vinous 93 Points: “The NV Brut Rosé is a knock-out. A Champagne of notable intensity, Billiot’s Rosé possesses tremendous richness and power. Sweet red berry fruit, kirsch, rose petal and mind infuse this deeply-colored Rosé with tons of flavor. This is an especially heady, vinous style built on serious texture, with Pinot Noir very much front and center.”

Wine Spectator 93 Points: “Rich and mouthwatering, with fragrant grilled nut and lime blossom on the nose layered with notes of pureed raspberry, kumquat, ground cardamom and graphite. There’s opulence here, but it’s well-checked and balanced by a firm spine of acidity and a salty streak of mineral that shows on the finish. Disgorged June 2020. Drink now through 2025.”

Moussé Fils, Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Perpetuelle L’Or d’Eugéne (NV) France
RETAIL 65.00 — GGWC 61.99 net item

Located in Vallee de la Marne in the village of Cuisles, Jonquery, Châtillon-sur-Marne

The Story: The Moussé family has been living in the Marne river valley as growers from father to son since 1629 and as winemakers for 4 generations. They came to Cuisles in 1880, cultivating vines and selling the grapes to the large champagne houses. Born in 1896, Eugène Moussé first took the same step. Later in the 1920’s, when he got tired of the ever-fluctuating grape price and fed up with his dependency on the whims of the buyers, he became one of the first two growers of the canton to start vinifying his own Champagne. The first bottling happened in 1923, which he started commercializing in 1926.

Sales were developing until the 1939 conflict. The 2nd world war endangers all Eugène’s hard work, as he tragically died in the Neuengamme concentration camp in 1945. His wife Suzanne bravely carried on until their son Edmond had recovered and came back from the same camp where he was also deported. In 1947 son Edmond came back from Neuengamme concentration camp. From then, the Champagne Moussé Fils adventure took on a new lease of life. Edmond was a remarkable wine enthusiast and connoisseur. He not only preserved the family traditions, but also took the quality of the wine to a whole new level. Sadly, he got ill and passed away in 1990, which means he never got the chance to keep expanding the company with his son Jean Marc, who joined him on the estate.

The NV Brut Blanc de Noir L’Or d’Eugène Perpétuelle is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir based on 2018, plus reserve wines. Sweet, perfumed aromatics immediately convey a feeling of sensuality and exoticism. Mirabelle plum, rose petal, spice and mint are all beautifully lifted. Soft, silky and open-knit, the L’Or d’Eugene is a fabulous choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years. The fruit profile of the red grapes is front and center. Dosage is 3.5 grams per liter.

Robert Parker 94 Points: “A blend of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir drawn from a solera established in 2003. Wafting from the glass with a deep and complex bouquet of golden orchard fruit, honeycomb, mirabelle plum, candied peel and fresh pastry, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, with a rich and sapid core of fruit, lively acids and a delicate pinpoint mousse.”

En Tirage 2010 Blanc de Blanc, Beckstoffer Napa Valley  
–GGWC 49.99 net item —
SPECIAL OFFER TODAY ONLY!!! 10% OFF when you buy 6 bottles and 15% OFF on a FULL case (You’ll have to CALL ME for the SPECIAL PRICING, as it is NOT available online!!) 

When you think you’ve seen (tasted) it all, something else “pops” up. The Beckstoffer family has been growing some of the most amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros for years and my old friend Don Baumhefner owner of the Elusive Chateau Beaux Hauts Bubbly produced one of the best bubblies to ever come from California. He just released his recently disgorged 2010 En Tirage “Blanc de Blancs” sparkling wine, sorry cannot call it “Champagne” here, but hey, this is worthy of being called Champagne in my book!  Only 322 cases were produced, so this one will go very quick!  For those sensitive ones, only 12% ABV

“The pale straw color and very subtle sparkling appearance of this wine, veil what lies beneath. Aromas of warm butter croissant, lemon curd, baked apple, and dried honeycomb give the impression you just walked into a French bakery. Toasty and doughy flavors paired with tart citrus fruit and subtle nuttiness convey the maturity and complexity of a wine developing though lees aging. On the palate, these rich flavors are layered upon each other in a savory mille-feuille of structured decadence. Silky effervescence provides the textural background for an elevated acidity to pierce through the gravity of this wine which perfectly expresses the ethos of En Tirage.”  – Desmond Echavarrie, Master Sommelier.

Dosnon Rose Brut Récolte, Champagne Avirey-Lingy
Côtes de Bars France
 
GGWC 69.99 net item

La Maison Dosnon is located in Avirey-Lingy, in the heart of a unique territory called La Côte des Bars, located in the southern part of the Champagne region, the vineyards are situated on rolling hills of hard limestone soils like Chablis. This terroir, dominated by clay-limestone soils, inspires particularly rich aromas and flavors in the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which acquire an exceptional finesse and fruitiness as they age.

Their knowledge of the most suitable terroirs for this wine, as well as discerning selection of grapes and crus, allows them  to craft complex and enticing wines.

The base wine for the Récolte Rose starts as a Blanc de Noirs of Pinot Noir with an addition of Pinot Meunier giving it its salmon-pink hue. Pinot Meunier is not as common in the Côte des Bar as Pinot Noir but Davy feels that it brings a lovely spice and fruit to his Rosé. With the base wine fermented and aged in used Puligny-Montrachet barrels and a minimum of 2 years aging in bottle with a dosage of 5g/L (the same as the Récolte Noire) it bears all the hallmarks of the Donson style – pure, focused, intensely mineral but with a clear, spicy, red-fruit and orange peel lift to the flavors.

Wine Spectator 94 Points: “Delicate spice, floral and graphite aromas lead to flavors of white peach, fresh ginger, biscuit and lemon peel in this harmonious rosé, with a firm and chalky frame. Offers a lasting, mouthwatering finish. 250 cases imported.”

Vinous 94 Points: “Light, bright orange. Redcurrant, orange zest, jasmine and a hint of dusty minerals on the seductively perfumed nose. Juicy, vibrant and taut, offering powerful, spice- and mineral-accented flavors of red berries and candied orange peel. Silky and expansive on a finish resounding with orange and mineral notes.”

Click on the links  for some other bubbly suggestions:
Colin 2012 Grand Cru Champagne
A. Margaine Champagne Premier Cru “Le Brut” 93 Points
Laherte Frères NV Ultradition Extra Brut Champagne
Dosnon Rose Brut Récolte, Champagne France
Thienot Rose Champagne NV Reims, France
Stéphane Coquillette Carte d’Or Brut Champagne 92 Points
Gonet-Médeville 1er Cru Cuvée Tradition Champagne 93 Points
Clotilde Brut “Grand-Cru” Champagne, France
Cazals 2009 Champagne Millesime 94 Points
Andre Robert Champagne “Extra Brut” Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil
Billecart Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne
Monthuys Champagne NV Brut, 750ml 
Monthuys Champagne Brut NV in MAGNUM
Carboniste 2020 Rose of Pinot Sparkling
Allimant Laugner Crémant Rosé d’Alsace

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 4 this Amazing 97 Point, UNDER $80 Cabernet

Andy and Jesse Katz as a Kid

Never mind the six million album covers around the world that feature Andy Katz’s photographs, or his dozen books of gorgeous photos that grace countless coffee tables around the country, or the many awards on his mantel earned from five decades of work around the world. It was all an excuse. An excuse to drink world class wine. To learn what it takes to make world class wine. And to spend time with his young son Jesse. Andy brought Jesse to the most famous vineyards on earth, from the heart of Burgundy to the hills of Tuscany. He may not have admitted it at the time, but Andy’s gambit worked. Barely a decade later, Jesse is now one of the most exciting — and accomplished — winemakers in the world, recently gracing the cover of Wine Enthusiast as a rising young star who is doing nothing less than “changing the way the world drinks.” The son of a man who, through his photographs, changes the way the world sees wine. And the rest… is history as they say.

Aperture 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 97 Points
GGWC $79.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code APERTURE during checkout

Robert Parker 97 Points: “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (blended with 3% Merlot and 1% Malbec) has a deep ruby color and bursts from the glass with detailed aromas of violet, tar, cassis, liquid cherries and graphite. This young wine has a stunning perfume! The palate is pure and grainy. Bursts of freshness lift its perfume, and its pure flavors linger a long time in the mouth.”
 
Jesse Katz Winemaker: ”All of our fruit is hand harvested and brought into the winery within hours of being picked. Everything is methodically and obsessively sorted. A cold soak of 4-7 days with minimal air incorporation starts the extraction and then cool fermentations with native yeast carry out the remaining. Air and temperature are controlled throughout the 14-28 day fermentation and extended maceration is determined lot by lot when I walk the fine line of full extraction but still keep an elegant and silky texture. Wines go through malolactic fermentation in barrel and are aged (sur-lees) for 18 months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, and un-acidified. Focusing first on the cabernet fruit from our mineral-rich, volcanic soil sites nestled on cooler hillside slopes in the Alexander Valley, this vintage’s blend is uniquely crafted with delicate inclusions of Merlot, Malbec.”

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

In case you missed it On their 20th Anniversary, Coho releases its best Cabernet EVER, 96 Points, TINY PRODUCTION

Coho

 

COHO is the aspiration of vintner Gary Lipp to produce flavorful, balanced wines. Grown in select cool-climate vineyards, COHO wines emphasize fruit purity and vitality. Gary has worked for California wineries for almost thirty-five years: involved in all aspects of the craft, acquiring the skills to bottle his passion.

The choice of COHO as the name of the brand might seem curious as it doesn’t invoke images of vineyards or wine, but to us the salmon embodies an innate wisdom so essential to understanding ourselves and our environment. As stewards of the land winemakers must strive to sustain our habitat and the species that share it. And like the salmon we need the steadfast will to keep going no matter how difficult the journey.

Founded in 2002, COHO makes wines that are easy to enjoy, full of flavor and reasonably priced. COHO has garnered recognition from the press, wine trade, and wine lovers for the quality and value of unique and well-priced wines.

COHO 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail  79.99 –  GGWC 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
Use code COHO during checkout

FMW 96 Points: This might be the best Cabernet Sauvignon COHO has produced yet to date. A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon (Sugarloaf) and 6% Petit Verdot (Chinn Vineyard). On the nose this wine shows its great character immediately. One is greeted by lush black currants and plums, hints of bittersweet chocolate and mocha and a whiff of anise. The palate of this multi-layered wine is amazingly polished and well-balanced. Gobs of black currant and chocolate coat this intense sultry body, leading into a very complex and long fish. This incredible undertaking will turn lots of heads! As always, very limited – ONLY 147 cases were produced! 

Also check out:
COHO 2016 Merlot “Michael Black” Coombsville, Napa Valley
COHO 2016 Headwaters Proprietary Red, Napa Valley 93 Points
COHO 2017 Pinot Noir “Stanly Ranch” Carneros Napa Valley

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

A reason to buy California wines…

California WInes

Here is a reason to continue to support those boutique California wineries

 

With just 25 hl/ha, Chablis wines have gone into shortage mode

 

Although the supply side started to increase its prices in April, the challenge at the end of the year is to position prices so that they allow the shortfall to be managed whilst also future-proofing markets.
– Photo credit : BIVB

 

To manage the dearth of wines in 2021, “we’re talking about allocations in Chablis, just like for the Côte!” exclaims Adrien Michaut, chairman of the Chablis producers’ organisation. With yields this year at an all-time low, currently estimated at 25 hectolitres per hectare, available volumes of Chablis seemingly range from 150 to 170,000 hl for the 2021 vintage, compared with a normal production potential of between 320 and 340,000 hl. “Yields are some of the worst we have ever seen. In 2016, production was low, but there were inventories. This year, we only have a year’s worth”, stresses Michaut, highlighting the series of unprecedented adverse weather events this year, with widespread frost, localised hail, powdery mildew pressure and the pace of harvesting quickened due to rain.

Rationing is an attempt to overcome the insoluble equation between strong demand and limited supply. “It’s challenging. Since the beginning of the year, overall sales of Burgundy in general and Chablis in particular have picked up, in France and non-EU export markets (Canada and the United States)”, comments Louis Moreau, vice-chairman of the Chablis committee at the Burgundy wine marketing board (BIVB). The board registered an increase of 20% in volume shipments of Burgundy white wines over the first 8 months of the year compared to January-August 2019 (before the Covid pandemic). “Conversely, we are experiencing an historically low harvest. Since June, we have been applying the brakes so that we can manage volumes until the end of 2022, or even the beginning of 2023”, says Moreau.

As an inevitable consequence of the pressure on volumes, initial prices soared in Chablis – the first transactions doubled in price overall, though admittedly bulk volumes are low. Must traded at €1,200 /hl (compared to €550-600 /hl last year) and the 132-hl ‘feuillette’ has reportedly risen to €1,400, compared with €700 to 750 in 2020. “These are impressive figures, but we are comparing two exceptional years: market uncertainties sparked by the pandemic in 2020; and the combined effects of a small harvest and strong demand in 2021”, explains broker Fabien Remondet. With initial sales difficult to assess effectively due to the lack of significant volumes, Remondet stresses that “the market is under pressure, but people are waiting to see what happens. Until official harvest figures are released – on 10 December – there are no real trends”.
 


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!

 

THE NEW EL COCO IS HERE, AND IT IS A REAL GEM!

GB Crane El Coco

 
In August of 2012, Dave Phinney and his friends stood in the middle of a block of hundred-year-old Zinfandel. The vineyard was planted by George Beldon Crane in the late nineteenth century and is one of the icons of the Napa Valley. Hours earlier they had signed the paperwork to buy the vineyard and it was just in the nick of time… they picked the grapes the next morning.

GB Crane 2019 El Coco Proprietary Red Blend,
Napa Valley

GGWC 84.99 
FREE SHIPPING on 6 or more
Use code GBCRANE during checkout

The 2019 GB Crane “El Coco” crafted by Dave Phinney is a blend of  Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Sirah and Old Vine Zinfandel.  Aromatics abound and complete, the “El Coco” is replete with a wide spectrum from boysenberry jam and black plum to candied raspberries and nutmeg. The palate is ripe with dark stone fruits, blueberries, a hint of meatiness and confectionary orange, akin to mandarin encased “foie gras”. With just enough tannin to bind the flavors together. The wine finishes elegantly with a salivating savory-ness that lingers. 
 
Winemaker Notes: “The 2019 G.B. Crane Vineyard el Coco pours a rich and dark garnet with a purple tint in the glass. Aromatically, the wine is boisterously expressive with notes of violet, lilac, blackberry, dark roses, supple leather and exotic spices. An energetic entry that is both elegant and vibrant, the palate is rife with notes of black plum, black cherry, currant, ripe raspberry and a touch of vanilla. Soft tannins abound with palate- coating density resulting in a luscious finish that lingers.”
 
Dave Phinney: “Life is an endless procession of surprises. The expected rarely occurs and when it does, make sure to erase it from your memory because it’s highly unlikely to repeat itself. That should be the definition for farming and more specifically grape growing. When we first purchased a portion of the iconic Crane vineyard it was mainly because of the four acres of ancient Zinfandel that are a St. Helena landmark. Of course, we knew there was Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and two rows of Merlot as well, but we considered these a bonus, if you will. That all changed the first time that we tasted the Cabernet in the fermenter. The young wine was massive. It had huge amounts of brambly black fruits and tons of weight on the mid pallet. The color was an amazingly dark violet hue. The aromas were so sophisticated for a wine of this age. We were dumbfounded…. in a good way. Immediately we began the discussion of what barrels to use, how long to leave it on the skins, etc… etc. It was a pleasurable panic. Grown men acting like a couple of giddy school girls. Eventually we calmed down and just enjoyed the moment. We welcomed the surprise. Now three years later we welcome you to enjoy this surprise, our surprise. Because none of us know when it may come again.”
 
Also check out these other GB Crane Wines: 
G.B. CRANE 2018 DISCIPLES PROPRIETARY RED, NAPA VALLEY

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

In case you missed it- Bevan Disciple “Sugarloaf Red” 96 Points TODAY ONLY 15% OFF

Bevan Cellars Outdoor Lifestyle
Kimberly Hatcher is the longtime assistant to Russell Bevan and has kept her eyes and ears wide open, and she is on a roll as of late! Robert Parker and Jeb Dunnuck have “noticed” her and the press is out! That said, Kimberly’s OWN wines are very small productions, and with high scores… they will sell out fast! She makes the wines at the Tench Caves, and I am sure Russell might be looking over her shoulder once in a while (… or maybe not).

Morgado 2018 Sugarloaf Proprietary Red, Napa Valley                          
Retail 105.00 – NOW 89.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use MORGADO during checkout

From the rocky exposed face of Sugarloaf Mountain, this marriage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc offers aromas of fresh from the oven German Chocolate cake (with a Bing cherry glaze). Heritage leather, bay leaf, and pipe tobacco wrap around a core of sun-dried cherries, persimmon, and end of season plum. Mouthwatering acidity carries the density of this wine and delivers the minerality and polished tannins from start to finish. While delicious upon release, this wine possesses a mystically restrained core that will reveal itself opulently over decades.

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points: “Lots of red, black, and blue fruits as well as notes of iron, bouquet garni, and chocolate emerge from the 2018 Red Wine Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. Medium to full-bodied, it has a ripe yet balanced, concentrated mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and beautiful length on the finish. As with all the wines from Morgado, it brings loads of pleasure and is already a joy to drink.”


Robert Parker 96 Points: “A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Sugarloaf Mountain Proprietary Red has a deep garnet-purple color, offering up a stunning perfume of black cherries, black raspberries and mulberries with hints of roses, fragrant earth and pencil shavings plus a touch of lavender. The full-bodied palate is rich, velvety and multi-layered, delivering impressive energy with a fantastically fragrant finish. This wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak. It has an alcohol of 15.9%. 250 cases were made.”

Also check out her equally amazing: Morgado 2018 Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir, 95 Points! 

 

LAST CALL 4 Helen Keplinger’s HOT new releases!

Helen Keplinger
The MUCH anticipated 2019 (Helen) Keplinger releases are finally in stock! I received the new Sumo & Lithic designated bottlings from Helen. As always the production of her wines are miniscule, so I don’t receive huge allocations. Let me know if you are interested, as these wines sell out quickly.

A little Helen Keplinger FYI – Helen is the current winemaker at Carte Blanche & Grace Family. She also worked at Bryant Family, Arrow & Branch, Paradigm & Kenzo alongside Heidi Barrett. Everywhere she worked with the elite, like Heidi Barrett & David Abreu. She also gained valuable experience in France and Australia. The 2019 vintage is “finger-licking-empty-that-glass-quick-great”!

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 & match with other Keplinger wines

The inky hued 2019 Sumo (83% Petite Sirah, 11% Syrah, and 6% Viognier) reveals a lively bouquet of blue fruits, violets, peony, spiced meats, and bouquet garni. This full-bodied, rich, yet elegant Petite Sirah has building tannins, terrific purity and a great finish. It’s another brilliant wine from the Sierra Foothills.

Helen’s Tasting Notes: “Sumo is a Cote Rotie twist on Petite Sirah – Petite Sirah co-fermented with Viognier, and blended with a small amount of Syrah. The 2019 Sumo is a blend of 83% Petite Sirah, 11% Syrah, and 6% Viognier, all from the rocky, volcanic, impeccably-and-organically-farmed Shake Ridge Vineyard. The Petite comes from three blocks, one is 80% rock and produces small, thick-skinned berries with intense aromatics and dense structure. The second Petite block also has very rocky soil with a western exposure – the berries are ever so slightly larger and the skins slightly thinner (remember this is still Petite!), bringing a juicy elegance to the blend. The third Petite block is at the bottom of a north-facing block, and is all about vibrant, fresh fruit – the lifter of the trio. The 2019 Sumo has a deep, dark nose of brambly blackberry, blueberry jam, black licorice, black cherry stones, violets, cassis bud, cedar, and a hint of white pepper. The palate has a silky entry with seamless, velvet-textured tannins throughout to the finish, subtly framing the blue and black fruit, asphalt, cherry blossom, dried herb and spice flavors on the palate. 300 cases produced.”

Vinous 97 Points (2018): “The 2018 Sumo is remarkably polished for a Petite Syrah-based wine. Inky blue/purplish fruit, lavender, mint and spice fill out the layers effortlessly. Helen Keplinger has done a brilliant job taming the young Petite tannins. The Sumo is deep and potent, but not at all overdone or heavy. It is one of the most compelling wines I have tasted from Helen Keplinger.”

Keplinger 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 & match with other Keplinger wines

The Lithic is bright, energetic and pulsing with energy. Dark red and purplish berry fruit, rose petal, mint and spice all flesh out in this beautifully delineated Mourvèdre/Grenache/Syrah blend. Sweet floral notes reappear on the finish, adding a final kick of freshness. This is such a gorgeous wine.

Helen’s Tasting Notes: ”The 2019 Lithic is a blend of 38% Grenache, 36% Mourvedre, and 26% Syrah – all coming from Ann Kraemer’s incredible Shake Ridge Vineyard, situated at 1700’ in the Sierra Foothills of Amador County. Organically farmed to perfection, the extraordinary Sierra uplift soils, loaded with quartz, basalt, soapstone, and shale always combine to create wines of great purity, richness, and minerality. The Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah blocks are all on rock-filled slopes with excellent exposure and drainage. The hillside blocks were harvested in partial picks for optimal ripeness on four different dates, and combined into small co-fermentations, each with a different percentage of whole cluster grapes. The wine was aged in a combination of new (15%), once-used and neutral French Demi Muids for 18 months before being bottled without fining or filtration. The 2019 Lithic is deeply perfumed, with heady aromatics of lavender, boysenberry, strawberries, orange blossom, Darjeerling tea, leather, rose petal, and baking spices. The gorgeous, silky entry, opens to delicious flavors of red and purple fruits, clove, pot pourri, cinnamon stick, with a persistent to the ethereal, long finish. 295 cases produced.”

Jed Dunnuck 96 Points (2018): A darker, richer wine, the 2018 Lithic is a Southern Rhône-like blend of  38% Grenache, 36% Mourvedre, and 26% Syrah that’s all from a site in Amador County. Blackberries, smoked meats, pepper, and chocolate notes emerge from the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a rounded, seamless texture and terrific tannins. It’s a brilliant wine that will certainly stand up to any number of great Châteauneuf du Papes.”

Also check out this other Helen Keplinger made wine and WINE OF THE YEAR
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!