The 2020 Wine Newsletter -V4- Is Here!
As the weather starts to cool and our thoughts drift towards the upcoming holiday season, we are doing everything we can to keep your shopping experience at Coaltrain safe, pleasant, and chock-full of all the autumn wine, beer and spirits favorites you know and love!
We appreciate all of the cooperation and support we have received over the past few months, in complying with our in-store mandatory mask policy. As a reminder, we will happily offer a complimentary mask to any patron arriving without one.
Additionally, we continue to offer easy curbside pickup of orders and delivery of our entire inventory, including pastas, sauces, meats, cheeses and snacks via Drizly.com or the free Drizly mobile app.
We look forward to seeing you, soon! And as always, if there are any special bottles or items we can look into ordering for you, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Jim & Peggy
· While we strive for perfection, we sometimes make a pricing mistake or typo. We appreciate your understanding. ·
WINES OF THE MONTH
2016 Giribaldi Alma Dolcetto d'Alba | Piemonte, Italy · $14.99 | Sale $10.99
The hills around Alba in Piemonte in northwestern Italy are the home of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most prestigious wines. Those are very excellent choices for special occasions and can require years of aging to reach their potential. What to drink in the interim? The answer is Dolcetto. Although the literal translation is "little sweet one,” Dolcetto is not a sweet wine. This is the Piemontese wine for everyday drinking. While Dolcetto has similar tannins to Nebbiolo, it is much lower in acidity (and price) and does not require extended aging. The Giribaldi family has been making Dolcetto (and Barolo) for over 100 years. Their Dolcetto d’Alba comes from organically-certified vineyards and is made for immediate consumption. This medium-bodied wine has aromas of black plum, cherry and dried herbs. There is a touch of bitter almond on the dry finish, typical of wines from the region. Pair it with just about any meat or pasta dish, or a roasted vegetable pizza.
2019 La Giana Pinot Grigio | Friuli, Italy · $12.99 | Sale $10.99
The Anselmi family makes this wine for domestic importer Giuliana, based in Boulder, Colorado, from grapes grown in Friuli, arguably Italy's best region for white wines. Just north of Venice, Friuli's cool mountain evenings, warm Adriatic days and gravelly soils are just the right recipe for Pinot Grigio. 100% estate fruit, this fresh Pinot Grigio hits all the right notes for this time of year - not highly acidic, but focused on ripe fruit. We found this a balanced, pleasant wine to finish out the summer. Great to pair with light seafood dishes, chicken or a even a white pizza.
2019 Peju Sauvignon Blanc | Napa, CA · $29.99 | Sale $25.99
When the wine department is tasked with recommending a Sauvignon Blanc, we will often start by asking our customer whether they prefer a typical New Zealand profile (grapefruit and grassiness) or more French-leaning (minerality and flint). This version from Peju creates a bridge between the fresh acidity of a Sancerre and the pithy citrus of Marlborough with the lusciousness of Napa Valley. Juicy tropical flavors balance with tartness and a round mouthfeel. Tony Peju founded the winery in 1983 after a successful career as a florist in Los Angeles. He and his wife purchased prime land next to Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyards, and he learned winemaking through a combination of classroom education and mentorship from the likes of Walter Schug, then winemaker for Joseph Phelps. He has passed the winemaking torch to Sara Fowler, who was named best local winemaker in Napa Valley Life magazine for three years running.
91 points | Wine Enthusiast
2017 Sineann Pinot Gris | Columbia Gorge, OR · $19.99 | Sale $17.99
We have been fans of Sineann (shuh-NAY-un) and its winemaker Peter Rosback for a long time (see their Red Table Wine from our 2019 Christmas newsletter), so we were thrilled with the opportunity to try this Oregon Pinot Gris. The bouquet literally jumps out of the glass on first whiff, hinting at the richness and fruit to come. Known for sourcing grapes from only the best vineyard sites, Rosback shows Pinot Noir is not the only varietal that benefits from his deft touch. Try this Pinot Gris with sushi, or maybe a salad of grilled chicken with strawberries.
91 points + Editor's Choice | Wine Enthusiast
2019 Corvidae Ravenna Riesling | Columbia Valley, WA · $14.99 | Sale $12.99
The raven on the label of this Washington Riesling is a member of the Corvidae family of birds, which also includes the jay, the magpie and the crow. This wily group of scoundrels is known for its adaptability, cunning, and excellent memory. This Riesling from the Owen Roe Winery shows its versatility as well, blending rich, complex fruit with a bracing acidity and bone-dry finish. Your palate won’t know what hit it!
2017 Fleur de California Carneros Select Chardonnay | Napa, CA · $19.99 | Sale $14.99
Fleur de California is the second label from Mahoney Vineyards, helmed by our old friend Francis Mahoney, who was featured at the Wine Festival of Colorado Springs back in 2007. Sourced from Mahoney's estate vineyards and those of their friends and neighbors, the line -a staple in restaurants- consists of Pinot Noir (Mahoney's specialty), Vermentino, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay. The Carneros Chardonnay has bright citrus, pear, and apple aromas that are accented with just a touch of French oak vanillin. Once intrigued by the invitation of the aromatics, beautifully crisp fruit envelops the palate with a nicely balanced mouthfeel. This is not an oak-laden, buttery wine, but a wine showing the true varietal character of Chardonnay - clean fruit with refreshing acidity. We were the beneficiaries of a mistake at the vineyard and got this wine for a song. It's a gorgeous bottle - visually and on the palate. Get some before it's gone!
91 points + Editor's Choice | Wine Enthusiast
2018 Ojai Chardonnay · Solomon Hills | Santa Maria, CA · $36.99 | Sale $33.99
In the Santa Maria Valley of Santa Barbara, locked between the Pacific Ocean and Highway 101, is a stretch of poor sandy soil that is beaten by fierce western winds and cold foggy weather. It doesn’t sound like a great place, but for grapes it couldn’t get better. This is the Solomon Hills Vineyard, and Ojai Winery saw the potential of this area to make amazing Chardonnay. The ability to make world-class wines didn’t just happen – Ojai founder, Adam Tolmach has been perfecting his craft since 1983 when he started making wines here. Adam graduated with a degree in viticulture from UC Davis and planted a vineyard in the Ojai Valley, the land his grandfather purchased in 1933. Over the past 30 years, he has been experimenting and continuously improving the vineyards and the winemaking. This 2018 Chardonnay is a testament to that work. Fermented in French oak, you will pick up aromas of toast along with notes of apple and lemon. Full-bodied, balanced and vibrant with citrus fruits and hints of crushed stones on the finish. This is an outstanding Chardonnay. Ojai didn’t make much so we grabbed what we could. To miss out would be a shame!
96 points | Jeb Dunnuck · 94 points | Vinous
2018 Peirano Estate Viognier | Lodi, CA · $14.99 | Sale $11.99
When Giacomo Peirano arrived in San Francisco after emigrating from Italy in the late 1800s, he was too late to catch the wave of success that lucky miners had experienced in the height of the Gold Rush. Fortunately, he took his last dollars and moved to Lodi where success in the mercantile business allowed him to return to Italy to retrieve his bride as well as some prized Zinfandel cuttings from his family vineyards. Those clippings became the start of four generations of wine-making from the Peirano family, to which they added additional varietals including this delicious Viognier. The sweet fruit and viscosity of the wine point to the warm climate of Lodi without sacrificing acidity and freshness. A richer example than its French counterpart, Peirano Viognier would be lovely with a peach and mozzarella salad or crab cakes with mango salsa.
2018 Sea Shell Tempranillo | Paso Robles, CA · $24.99 | Sale $21.99
We often have people wandering the Spanish aisle at Coaltrain, searching for the perfect Tempranillo from Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Well, there’s a new kid on the block, and this Tempranillo from Sea Shell Cellars can be found nestled among the domestic reds. Coming from the property of Rich and Michelle Carter in Paso Robles, this beautiful wine has been a hit with our fans of the Tempranillo varietal. Fresh fruit is rounded out by very soft tannins, showing an easier drinking style than some other Old World Spanish offerings. This wine would be wonderful with lamb chops on the grill, perhaps with a cherry demi-glace. Over-delivers for the price.
2016 Tyee Pinot Noir | Willamette Valley, OR · $21.99 | Sale $17.99
The Buchanan family settled in Oregon way back in the 1850s and eventually established a farm in the Willamette Valley in 1885. The Buchanans first planted vines in 1974, making them among the pioneers of Oregon viticulture. Today they produce about 1500 cases of four different varietal wines, but Pinot Noir is the most important. Their estate Pinot Noir has fruit from their original plantings in 1974 along with other vines at least 16 years of age. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 18 months in French oak, of which 15% is new. The wine showcases aromas of red berries with notes of brown sugar, dried herbs and spices. On the palate, it's nicely balanced, delivering subtle flavors of raspberry and cherry with hints of tea and earth. This is a wonderful value for a true family-owned boutique wine and very representative of the characteristics that have made Willamette Valley Pinot Noir so successful.
2016 Kunin Pape Star | Central Coast, CA · $26.99 | Sale $23.99
Seth Kunin cut his teeth in the restaurant world before opening his eponymous Central Coast winery in 1998. His stints as a wine director opened his eyes to an appreciation for Rhône and Loire varietals, leading him to focus on Viognier, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with some Zinfandel thrown in for good measure. Fan-favorite Pape Star is a cheeky nod to one of Seth’s favorite Rhône appellations, and features a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. We loved this wine for its juicy cross of Old World style with New World flair, making it a perfect choice for the Francophile taking a vacation to the beach (Seth’s tasting room is less than a mile from the ocean)!
92 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
Sandhi is the brainchild of winemakers Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr. Their ultimate goal was to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Burgundian elegance in Santa Barbara, California. Since his days as a sommelier, working alongside Celebrity Chef Michael Mina, Raj has achieved quite a bit of fame of his own. He has written several well-regarded books, and has starred in the popular “Somm” movies. In the third film, Raj and Sashi’s California Pinot Noir (spoiler alert!) ends up beating wines from the best producers in Burgundy in a battle that was created as an homage to the famous Judgment of Paris in 1976 that helped put California wine on the international stage. Along with "Evening Land", their project together in Oregon, Raj and Sashi are helping to redefine New World Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
2019 Sandhi Central Coast Chardonnay | Central Coast, CA · $26.99 | Sale $22.99
This is the inaugural vintage of Sandhi’s Central Coast Chardonnay. Sandhi has always prioritized working with the most amazing organic farmers possible, and this pursuit led them to look a bit outside of Santa Barbara-proper for the first time, extending their reach to Cambria and San Luis Obispo, sourcing from some of the oldest vineyards in the area. This is cool climate California Chardonnay at its best - lemon zest, stone fruit, and almond notes that blend harmoniously to create a beautifully-textured, mineral-driven white wine. Organic.
2018 Sandhi Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir | Santa Rita Hills, CA · $36.99 | Sale $33.99
This vintage of Sandhi Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is an even more unbelievable value than it has been in the past. For the 2018, Sandhi has blended their higher-end, single-vineyard Domaine de la Côte and Sanford and Benedict grapes into this affordable bottling. This medium-bodied wine is bursting with dark fruits like black cherry and plum, with just enough underlying savoriness to add complexity and elegance. This is a tremendous Pinot Noir to drink now, but will age gracefully in the near term. This wine certainly drinks well above its price point, and should be in every California Pinot Noir collector’s cellar. Organic.
2016 Ex Libris Cabernet Sauvignon | Columbia Valley, WA · $23.99 | Sale $21.99
Ex Libris Cabernet Sauvignon is truly one of the best values we have come across lately. Not only is it sourced from some of the most coveted vineyards in Washington, including Sheridan Vineyard (made popular by the high-end bottlings from Andrew Will), and Champoux Vineyard (utilized by cult Washington winery, Cayuse), it is matured in high-end French Oak (about 15% new). “Ex-Libris” is Latin term for “from the library of” and is a nod to all the great sites from which they were able to acquire grapes. The wine has notes of dark fruits like plum, blackberry and black currant, along with a touch of licorice and earth. Simply put, it has all the pedigree of a much more expensive wine. This is a wine to buy by the case. Sustainable.
2018 Brea Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon | Paso Robles, CA · $29.99 | Sale $26.99
Brea is the newest project from famed Natural Wine Pioneer Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars). The Broc Cellars wines tend to be a bit outside the mainstream, so Brea was created as an outlet to produce traditional varieties like this Cabernet Sauvignon from Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles. This wine, as are all the other Brea wines, is farmed biodynamically (an intensely holistic, beyond-organic method of farming.) Margarita Vineyard is only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, creating a cool microclimate that is perfect for Cabernet. Even with the small amount of Petite Verdot, the Brea Cabernet is remarkably easy-drinking, and has fine, delicate tannins and beautiful dark fruit. There is a touch of sophisticated French Oak that adds complexity and nuance. This is the ideal California Cabernet for fans of Bordeaux. Biodynamic.
2017 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon · Red Mountain | Lake County, CA · $31.99 Sale $27.99
The Molnar brothers are a one-stop shop of winemaking. Their Lake County wines come from 100% estate grown fruit, and they produce their own barrels from Hungarian oak harvested in the forest they own in the Tokaj region of their homeland, which has a 1000-year history of cooperage. In 2002, together with partner Michael Terrien, they produced their first 98 cases of Obsidian Ridge Cabernet from their high-altitude vineyards at the top of the Mayacamas range, on a volcanic peak in the Red Mountain AVA of Lake County; these wind-swept vineyards planted on red soils shot with obsidian rock produce hearty grapes with thick skins that result in a wine of high tones and firm tannins. To the Cabernet, they add 2% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot to round out the cuvée with dark chocolate and berry tones.
93 points | Wine Enthusiast
2019 Domaine des Forges Val de Loire Chenin Blanc | Loire · $15.99 | Sale $13.99
The Loire River Valley is known as the epicenter of great Chenin Blanc. Records of Chenin Blanc in the region go back over 500 years, before any plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, and even before Cabernet Sauvignon was known to exist. Aside from the famous wines of Vouvray and Savennières, there is a wealth of wonderful and affordable Chenin Blancs produced throughout the region. Over half of the Domaine des Forges’ 115 acres of vineyards is planted to Chenin Blanc, and while they do make some higher end bottlings, their basic Chenin de Loire is an absolute steal. Sustainably-farmed, or "lutte raisonnée" as it’s called in France, and aged briefly in stainless steel tanks, this is quintessential Loire Chenin Blanc. Medium weight with excellent acidity and hints of green apple, honey and a chalky minerality.
2019 Jean Reverdy Sancerre "La Reine Blanche" | Loire · $33.99 | Sale $29.99
It seems that the name Reverdy is ubiquitous in Sancerre, not unlike Smith or Brown. The good news is that all of the various Reverdys make outstanding wine. The Domaine Jean Reverdy dates back to 1650. Current owner Christophe Reverdy makes about 8,000 cases a year of red, rosé, and an outstanding white. Grapes are sustainably-farmed and harvested from several vineyard sites in four different communes within the Sancerre appellation. Notes of white flowers, quince, melon, and white peach abound in this dry, minerally but surprisingly plush Sancerre. This is arguably the best Sancerre we’ve tasted this year and a stellar example of what Sauvignon Blanc can aspire to.
2018 Thevenet et Fils Macon-Pierreclos Bourgogne | Burgundy · $24.99 | Sale $21.99
100% Chardonnay, grown in the Mâcon region of Burgundy. The Thevenets have always worked their 50-year-old vines organically, and still do their harvesting by hand, a practice that is becoming increasingly rare in the Mâcon. This wine is aged entirely in stainless steel, enhancing the wine's lively minerality. It possesses all the classic White Burgundy hallmarks: melon, apple, pear, and crisp, perfectly-balanced acidity. Great on its own, it is also an ideal pairing for simple preparations like roast chicken, lightly-cooked salmon, or goat cheese. Organic.
2016 Domaine Boutin M.B. Rasteau | Rhône · $26.99 | Sale $24.99
Approximately 15 miles northeast of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on a small hilltop sits the ancient village of Rasteau. Here vines have been cultivated since Roman times. There is a unique diversity of soil types here including more clay than what is usually seen in the Rhône. The result is often wines of greater depth and richness than some of its neighbors. In 2010, Rasteau was elevated from a Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages to Cru status. This means they can put just the name of their village on the label. It also means they will charge higher prices. In the case of Rasteau it is justified. After Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, this may be the best Cru in the southern Rhône. Being a relatively small area, the wines are not often readily available. Mikael Boutin is the epitome of the artisanal vigneron. He makes only one wine, and not very much of it - on average about 800 cases a year. His Rasteau is a blend of 60% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. While we enjoyed his 2015, the 2016 is something special. This was a truly great year in the southern Rhône, and the depth and concentration of the vintage is apparent here. Boutin’s 2016 Rasteau is easily the equivalent of many Gigondas that are twice the price. For lovers of Rhône reds, don’t miss it. Quantities are limited.
2016 Château Dorléac Revelations · Graves | Bordeaux · $17.99 | Sale $15.99
The firm of Yvon Mau has always been a source of excellent value wines from Bordeaux. They often work side-by-side with various châteaux and assist in all aspects of the production. Château Dorléac is part of their portfolio and is situated in the Graves appellation just south of the city of Bordeaux. True to its name, the soil here is very deep gravel, which forces the vines to dig deep for water and nutrients. Château Dorléac sits on an especially gravelly hilltop and is planted almost exclusively to Merlot. The richness and depth of the 2016 vintage is on display here with rich plump fruit yet a sense of depth and sophistication that belies its price point. Check it out.
Located in the mountainous Alps region in eastern France, bordering Switzerland, is the Savoie wine region. Most of us would think of skiing and hiking, but this tiny wine producing area (0.5% of all the wine produced in France) is making some wines that really turned our heads. The grapes are unique and planted at high elevations. Most of the wine never leaves the area, but lately Coaltrain has developed a relationship with a French importer and we’ve gained access to some real gems. These treasures are from Domaine Jean Vullien. The Vullien family has been growing grapes since 1890 and supplying young vines to wineries throughout France. In 1975 Jean decided it was time to make his own wine. Now assisted by his sons David and Olivier, Jean is making some seriously note-worthy wines at ridiculous prices.
2019 Jean Vullien Jacquère | Savoie · $15.99 | Sale $13.99
Jacquère is the most widely planted varietal in the Savoie. It makes an easy-drinking and vibrant white wine. The 2019 Jacquère has delicate aromas of white flowers and peach. The palate displays flavors of pear and stone fruits, with bracing acidity and beautiful minerality throughout. Jacquère is a great wine to sip on by itself, but will easily match up with lighter food fare. It’s best pairing, though, is seafood and fondue! This is a well-structured wine and a nice alternative to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, so be adventurous and take the jump! You won’t regret it. Buy this by the case!
2018 Jean Vullien Mondeuse | Savoie · $17.99 | Sale $15.99
Mondeuse is a red grape varietal that is one of the oldest and most unique. It is a difficult grape to grow in the Alps because it has trouble reaching full ripeness, but when it does it is a pure delight. Mondeuse is typically made in two styles: the first is light to medium-bodied and meant to be consumed young, and the second is richer, darker and heavier in body. The one we have captured is somewhere in-between. The grapes are grown in one of the crus in Savoie – Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte – a small commune known to produce higher-quality Mondeuse because of its amazing soils and microclimate. This wine is full of raspberry and blueberry flavors with a hint of French oak. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich, and the finish is long and pleasant with a touch of spice. Bring this to your next dinner party for its versatility with food or just enjoy a few glasses at home. Either way, you can’t go wrong! Buy a few bottles before it’s gone.
Beaujolais has often had the reputation as a simple, everyday quaffing wine. While that may be true for some mass produced brands, the range of styles throughout the Beaujolais district in southern Burgundy is quite vast. Here, the Gamay grape flourishes in its natural habitat and produces wines from delicate-and-refreshing to deep-and-powerful.