The Fall 2019 Newsletter Has Arrived!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PRINTABLE IMAGE VERSION (complete with images & additional information) WINES OF THE MONTH
2018 Via Revolucionaria Bonarda Pura | Mendoza, Argentina · $13.99 | Sale $11.99
The Bonarda grape, originally from France and known as Douce Noir, is no longer grown there. There is Bonarda from Piedmont in northwestern Italy, but it is not the same grape. In California it is known as Charbono, and some wines from Napa get premium prices. The Argentine version of Bonarda is second in acreage only to plantings of Malbec, but dramatically different. This organically-farmed 100% Bonarda is from Via Revolucionaria, located in the Uco Valley in Tupungato, Mendoza. Matias Michelini, the winemaker and agronomist, strives to make experimental wines that express the terroir of this cooler climate. Light (with the alcohol coming in at just 12%), lively and juicy, yet not overly fruity, the wine is soft and round on the mid-palate, with bright acidity and a touch of tannin. Balanced wine, easy and imminently quaffable (or “glou-glou” as the French describe chuggable wines!)
2016 Château Charron Bordeaux Blanc | Bordeaux, France · $13.99 | Sale $10.99
Bordeaux, as the largest wine region in France, produces an ocean of wine: around 75 million cases. Despite the accolades for the top wines, only about 3% of the total production sells for over $20 a bottle. There is a vast quantity of affordable everyday wines. While thought of as red wine region, millions of cases of white are also made. There are a handful of “serious” white wines, but the vast majority are for everyday drinking. Château Charron is located on the right bank of the Gironde River across the river and just north of Margaux. Their white Bordeaux contains equal parts Sauvignon Blanc (crisp, light and herbaceous) and Sémillon (fuller-bodied, viscous and honeyed) with a touch of Muscadelle (for floral aromatics). This light, crisp wine is a perfect match for lighter seafood and chicken dishes. From the wineries website (with perhaps some questionable translation), “The nose is floral and includes exotic notes. In the mouth it is very nice, not aggressive and greedy.”
2017 Stonestreet Winery Sauvignon Blanc | Alexander Valley, CA · $32.99 | Sale $25.99
It’s rare to find a mountain-grown Sauvignon Blanc. Mountainside vineyards are usually reserved for Cabernet, which, as you may know, sells at a much higher price. However, Stonestreet planted Sauvignon Blanc on parts of their mountainside vineyards and have created a unique and very compelling wine. We had the pleasure of tasting this wine at the Stonestreet dinner we co-hosted with The Famous, and we loved it. It’s very different than the typical Sauvignon Blanc. While the nose has some citrus aspects as you might expect, the flavors are peach, nectarine and melon. Delicious! There’s enough acidity on the finish to make you yearn for another sip WITHOUT the tartness and grassiness found in many Sauv Blancs. If you swear you don’t like Sauvignon Blanc, try this one. And, if you love Sauvignon Blanc, you should try this one, as well, to experience a wonderfully-different style.
91 points | Wine Enthusiast
2016 Anaba Turbine White | Sonoma, CA · $33.99 | Sale $29.99
In the vineyards of Sonoma, cool ocean breezes flow in from San Pablo Bay. As these breezes blow through the vineyards they cool down the temperatures and allow the grapes to ripen at a slower pace and develop more complex flavors. When these breezes rise up the slopes of the vineyard hills they’re called anabatic winds. Anaba Winery derived their name from these beneficial winds. In addition, winery owner and engineer, John Sweazy has harnessed the power of these winds by installing a 45 foot wind turbine that provides most of the power to the winery. Take these winds, some Rhône varietals and throw in winemaker extraordinaire Ross Cobb (Williams Selyem and Hirsh Vineyards) and you have a recipe for success. You can taste that success in Anaba’s White Turbine Rhône varietal blend. Comprised of 40% Viognier, 31% Grenache Blanc, 22% Roussanne and 7% Marsanne, this is an absolute delight. Flavors of orange blossom, honeysuckle and peach explode on the palate with a bracing acidity to hold it all together. Our well established wine connections allowed us to get the last few cases of this gem so grab it before it’s gone for good!
90 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2016 Willamette Valley Vineyards Dijon Clone Chardonnay | Willamette Valley, OR · $24.99 Sale $21.99
We fondly remember going to a tasting, about 30 years ago, sponsored by the wineries of Willamette Valley. They flew in lots of fresh fish and lots of Chardonnay. Well, the fish was awesome, but not so much the Chards. How 30 years can make a difference! They discovered they had planted all the wrong clones of Chardonnay for that area and basically started over. They grafted or replaced all of the existing vines and changed them out with clones that are now producing wonderful wines. The Dijon Clone Chardonnay has aromatic notes of tropical fruit, butterscotch and vanilla. It has a wonderful, creamy, medium-bodied palate with nice acidity and a long finish. We are so glad they replanted all those vineyards and love to redo that tasting of 30 years ago. Pairs well with rich seafood dishes, creamy risottos and white cheddar cheeses.
2015 Allis Ranch Winery Roussanne | Colorado · $14.99 | Sale $13.99
Colorado’s wine industry is still in its infancy. As recently as 1990, there were only five operating wineries in the state. It may take another generation or two for winemakers to figure out which varietals work best in western Colorado’s unique climate and soil types. Roussanne is a white grape that is most famously grown in the Rhône Valley of southern France. Often difficult to grow, it is usually blended with Marsanne, most famously in the great white wines of Hermitage. Small amounts are also grown on the western slope right here in Colorado. David Rhyne, who makes one of the state’s finest Syrahs called Two Husky, also makes a small quantity of Roussanne. The aroma of this Roussanne suggests a flowery, herbal tea with orange blossom and lemon. Rich with flavors of melon, pears, sweet white fruit, orange, toast and honeysuckle. One of Colorado’s most distinctive wines. Less than 50 cases made.
2018 Matthiasson Family Tendu Cortese | Clarksburg, CA · $17.99 | Sale $14.99
Steve Matthiasson is one of Napa’s top viticultural consultants and has worked with such wineries as Hall, Spottswoode, Araujo and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. He was named Winemaker of the Year by Food & Wine in 2012. In 2003 he and his wife Jill created Matthiasson Wines. They have always emphasized balance and restraint in their wines rather than over extraction. Tendu is a label they created to offer affordable natural wines from lesser known varietals. Cortese is most famously grown in the Gavi appellation in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The Tendu Cortese comes from a vineyard planted in the Clarksburg AVA on the Sacramento River delta. Fog and cool breezes from San Francisco Bay make this ideal white wine country. White peach, starfruit and lemon peel along with a slight minerality highlight this beautifully balanced and elegant (only 12% abv) white wine. Perfect for lighter dishes and for quaffing by itself. Only 551 cases made.
2016 Wrath Swan/828 Clone Pinot Noir | Santa Lucia Highlands, CA · $34.99 | Sale $28.99
In 2007, archaeologist Michael Thomas and family purchased the San Saba Vineyard located just below the Santa Lucia Highlands. Michael spent many years in Italy working on archaeological digs and like many others developed a love for the local food and wine. His goal at Wrath is to make the wines as expressive of their terroir as possible. Four bottlings of Pinot Noir - totaling about 2,000 cases - are made from different plots and clones in the San Saba Vineyard. “Forest floor, wood smoke, and earthy dark fruits all give way to a medium-bodied, concentrated, nicely balanced Pinot Noir that shows the elegant, complex style of the vintage nicely. It's another classic Pinot Noir from this estate that's well worth seeking out."
93 points | Jeb Dunnuck
2017 Stolpman La Cuadrilla · Ballard Canyon | Central Coast, CA · $23.99 | Sale $20.99
When Tom Stolpman purchased the land that is now Stolpman Vineyards, he declared that if his dream of owning a vineyard was to come true, it would not be on the backs of people being taken advantage of. He asked vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano to employ vineyard workers year-round, so the team members could have a steady job, a career, and raise their families with security. A man of action, Ruben started a training program in which he gave one Cuadra - a small vineyard block - to his team so they would take responsibility for their land. Each crew member became the farmer rather than just the worker. The wine made from the crew’s training Cuadra would be given to the team members for their own consumption. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, Stolpman expanded the Cuadrilla (“the crew”) program to blend in more wine from the vineyard in addition to the training Cuadra. Today, 10% of the vineyard’s production goes into the blend. The profits are returned to the crew members, divided by seniority, in the form of a year-end bonus. Every vintage, the blend is different, with the 2017 being 55% Syrah, 27% Sangiovese and 18% Grenache. Dark and intense, with delicious suppleness through the palate, the wine shows loads of wonderfully ripe fruit in the mouth with firm, grainy tannins and juicy freshness. Yum!
93 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2017 The Paring Red Blend | California · $27.99 | Sale $22.99
Screaming Eagle Cabernet is the most expensive wine made in America (available at Coaltrain for $2,499). Owner Stan Kroenke also owns property in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. There at the Jonata Winery, they make the Central Coast’s most esteemed Cabernet Sauvignon called El Desafio ($139 at Coaltrain). What does all this have to do with The Paring? Well, Jonata winemaker Matt Dees takes all of the grapes from younger vines and those declassified from the Jonata line to make The Paring. The Red Blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot and is aged in 55% new French oak. What’s not to like? This is a premium quality California Cabernet blend from an esteemed vineyard at a very reasonable price. “Offers plenty of blackcurrant, toasted spice, graphite and licorice notes in a medium-bodied style.”
91 points | Jeb Dunnuck
2016 Tamber Bey Cabernet Sauvignon, Deux Chevaux Vineyard | Yountville, Napa, CA $62.99 | Sale $56.99
This stunning 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the “Deux Chevaux” vineyard at Tamber Bey. Aromas of dark plum, blackberry, spice and vanilla fill the glass. On the palate, the wine has richness, strength and a velvety texture. This Cabernet is complex with a touch of Bordeaux character… a style we love. Approachable now, but has the tannin and balanced acidity to age gracefully. “Deux Chevaux” is French for “two horses.” Besides being a winery, Tamber Bey is home to a world class equestrian facility, 45 horses and is the largest horse rescue organization in Napa County. Limited production, so don’t wait!
92 points | James Suckling
2016 Domaine Eden Cabernet Sauvignon | Santa Cruz, CA · $52.99 | Sale $47.99
Martin Ray was one of the founding fathers of California’s boutique wine industry. He planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the site that is now Mount Eden Vineyards, in the rugged Santa Cruz Mountains, in 1945. This site has come to be regarded as one of the finest in the state. In 2007, Mount Eden purchased the Cinnabar winery just a short distance away. Here the soil was quite different and it was decided to market the wines as Domaine Eden rather than incorporate them into the existing wines. Along with grapes from some carefully selected neighboring plots, the Domaine Eden Cabernet Sauvignon is made in a similar style to its big brother at Mount Eden Vineyards but at half the price. The emphasis here is on balance and nuance with notes of blackberry, sage and forest floor, but not to the detriment of a lush, smooth palate with a perfect oak/fruit balance. One of the best values in premium California Cabernet.
2017 Les Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine | Loire · $20.99 | Sale $17.99
Near the mouth of the Loire, France’s longest river and largest wine region, sits the appellation of Muscadet. Here the grape grown is Melon de Bourgogne, which produces a dry, very crisp and minerally white wine - perfect for seafood, especially oysters. This is the Loire Valley’s largest wine region and there are many producers, but there are a few who stand out and have taken their wines to a higher level. One of these is the Domaine de la Pépiere. Here the vineyards are organic and farmed with biodynamic practices. Les Gras Moutons (The Fat Sheep) is a single hilltop plot. With strong breezes often coming off the Atlantic Ocean, this windy site produces crisp, focused wines with a nearly-ripe peach, citrus flavor, like lemon bordering on mandarin orange. Serious wine from a region known more for value.
2016 Chapoutier La Ciboise Blanc | Luberon · $18.99 | Sale $16.99
Situated midway between Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in Aix-en-Provence is the appellation of Luberon. Luberon lies in the midst of a National Park/Reserve and is protected from encroaching urban sprawl. It is also at a higher altitude than many surrounding wine regions, hence cooler nighttime temperatures. This is beneficial for the production of white wines. Chapoutier is one of the great names of the Rhône Valley; especially for their incandescent wines from Hermitage. They also make wines from lesser appellations and their Luberon Blanc is a wonderful, flavorful blend of Grenache blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and unusually, Vermentino, known locally as Rolle. The Vermentino adds a distinctive citrus character, refreshing acidity and surprising richness to an already flavorful blend. Rich enough to be served as an aperitif, but not heavy or blowsy, as many whites from this area can be; this is a wonderful southern French white with notes of lemon and white peaches, yet round on the palate with a surprising minerality.
2017 Jean Manciat Mâcon-Charnay | Bourgogne · $20.99 | Sale $18.99
Mâcon, in southern Burgundy, is home to some of the best values in Chardonnay. Here in the village of Charnay, Jean Manciat farms 12 acres of vines. In these sustainably-farmed vineyards, he utilizes techniques more common in the Côte d’Or to the north, where the wines can reach stratospheric prices. This drastically reduces his yields. The hand-harvested fruit is whole-cluster-pressed, naturally fermented and aged on its lees in stainless steel tanks - no oak at all! The end result is one of the purest expressions of Chardonnay we’ve tasted all year. Clean, slightly floral and flinty; almost like Chablis but with a little more weight reflecting the warmer climate in Mâcon. Although somewhat challenging for reds, 2017 was an exceptional vintage throughout Burgundy for white wine, as reflected in this wonderful Chardonnay.
2017 Domaine des Masques Essentielle Les Masques | Vin de France · $18.99 | Sale $15.99
This blend of Syrah and Marselan (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache) shows roundness and charm on the palate, with a beautiful expression of red and black fruits and some nice spicy notes. Medium-bodied with round tannins that give a feeling of immediate pleasure and an elegant finish.
2017 Michel Tete Beaujolais Villages | Bourgogne · $18.99 | Sale $16.99
Our last newsletter featured the Julienas from esteemed Beaujolais producer Michel Tete. This was a serious and wonderful Beaujolais and we had to restock due to its popularity. Just west of Julienas in an area only classified as Beaujolais Villages, the Tete family own a parcel of 50 year old vines that are farmed utilizing the same techniques as their more expensive cru bottlings. So what’s the difference? Price. This wine may be classified as Beaujolais Villages, but it is Cru quality in everything but name. "This is a character-rich, expressive Gamay. Certainly one of the finest values for serious quality anywhere; floral, aromatic and full of intensely layered red fruits.” -Michael Skurnik