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Monthly Marvels Club

Shipped November 2016

Standard

2014 Oro En Paz Cabernet Franc Chalk Hill Sonoma

Youthful, focused and “grippy”, yet food-worthy, this is Chalk Hill red all the way. The nose offers black raspberry, red currant, red and black cherry, pink peppercorn, rose, cedar, mace, sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla, bitter chocolate and dark earth in more or less equal measure. In the mouth, the texture seems lean and youthfully gutsy, as the appellation’s dark minerality, zest and tannin contribute to create a slightly rustic mouth-feel. Cab Franc’s fruity-floral personality is present in force however, so airing and food-service will “pretty-up” the package. The finish is long and dinner-balanced, and fatty meats will bring out the desired elegance. A bit of short-term cellaring will make it more supple and bring fruit to center-stage. 250 cases made.

2015 Palmina Cortese Cascina Cortese Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley

This vivacious wine is as complex as it is engaging. The nose marries stone fruit,  guava, cantaloupe, brioche, nut husk and mineral salt scents into a surprisingly light-hearted harmony. It proves fruit-forward and fun on the palate, where piquant apple skin, walnut husk, white pepper and saline notes balance the slightly gushing fruitiness. It finishes fruit-forward yet fully dry, and flavors of melon, bees wax, sweet lemon, guava, rose, honeysuckle, fennel and cucumber chime-in at the finish. It is food-worthy and ready to enjoy. 202 cases produced.

Red & Red

2014 Oro En Paz Cabernet Franc Chalk Hill Sonoma

Youthful, focused and “grippy”, yet food-worthy, this is Chalk Hill red all the way. The nose offers black raspberry, red currant, red and black cherry, pink peppercorn, rose, cedar, mace, sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla, bitter chocolate and dark earth in more or less equal measure. In the mouth, the texture seems lean and youthfully gutsy, as the appellation’s dark minerality, zest and tannin contribute to create a slightly rustic mouth-feel. Cab Franc’s fruity-floral personality is present in force however, so airing and food-service will “pretty-up” the package. The finish is long and dinner-balanced, and fatty meats will bring out the desired elegance. A bit of short-term cellaring will make it more supple and bring fruit to center-stage. 250 cases made.

2015 Kivelstadt Carignane “Old Wyve’s Tale” Cooley Ranch Alexander Valley

Brightly focused and zesty, the aromas of this tasty red are a forthcoming mix of pink and black peppercorn, cranberry, pomegranate, lingonberry, strawberry, watermelon, blood orange, vanilla, tobacco and mineral scents. Hazelnut husk and black tea notes join-in on the palate, where red plum, cranberry, lingonberry, pink peppercorn and sweet caramel are highlighted by a sleek, food-balanced mouth-feel. It is long and flavor-packed, yet zesty and bright to the end, making it a perfect foil for grilled salmon, crusted pork loin, braised lamb and the like. It will evolve nicely over the next twelve months. 195 cases made.

Deluxe

2014 Paul Lato Chardonnay “Kokoro” Santa Barbara County

By any standard this is a knockout Chardonnay. The nose pushes-forth aromas dominated by apple skin, lemon zest, peach pit, kumquat, baked green apples and vanilla cream pie. The flavors are much deeper and more varied, and they roll-out in a rich, piquant, slightly exotic wave, with pear liqueur, dried peach, dried pineapple, dried mango, apple, brioche, toasted grain, nut husk, smoke, lemon curd, lemon zest and kumquat marmalade impressions lining-up in chiseled focus. Long, vibrantly fresh and intense to the end, it is built for service with the richest seafood entrees and it will likely grow in stature and appeal for several years. 45 cases made.

2015 Bedrock Zinfandel Esola Vineyard Sierra Foothills Amador County

Planted in 1964, the Esola vineyard has long been notable for the way it’s pretty fruit subdues the appellation’s typically hard-edged mineral elements. A perfect example, the 2015 smothers it’s iron-like underpinnings in silky-sweet red plum, Maraschino cherry, dried red cherry, watermelon, vanilla toffee and dried flower scents. There is a wonderful interplay between piquant zest and focused red fruit on the palate, where the texture is, if lean, surprisingly supple, and the finish is packed with sour plum, red cherry, crab apple syrup, Persian raisin, white pepper and mineral flavors. Terrific now as companion to a crusted pork roast, it will be better still next year. 250 cases produced.

Shipped October 2016

Standard

2013 Flywheel Mourvedre Boer Vineyard Chalone District

If reminiscent of Bandol in its earthy spice, this “one barrel beauty” is all California in its easy drinkability. The nose layers scents of raspberry cobbler, grenadine and whortleberry above a savory perfume of orange peel tea, pink peppercorn, rose hip, vanilla, smoked meat, damp forest logs and sandalwood. Although not especially rich in body, it is otherwise distinctive, as raspberry cream sickle, candied violet, dry red rose, graphite and wild mushroom flavors join with the aromatic notes. Complex and lingering, it is never heavy and will be a fine match to many meals. 25 cases produced.

2014 Adelaida Chardonnay “Estate” HMR Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles

This is a perfectly-balanced, quietly rich Chardonnay with an engaging style and lots of flavor. The nose joins scents of lemon curd, white peach, baked green apple, yellow rose, white pepper, brioche and a bit of hazelnut into a delightful marriage. The texture is supple and rounded and the rich flavors of peach, apple, lemon curd, lime zest, yellow rose, vanilla wafer and hazelnut linger in graceful harmony. This one should prove a particularly versatile dinner companion. 189 cases produced.

Red & Red

2013 Flywheel Mourvedre Boer Vineyard Chalone District

If reminiscent of Bandol in its earthy spice, this “one barrel beauty” is all California in its easy drinkability. The nose layers scents of raspberry cobbler, grenadine and whortleberry above a savory perfume of orange peel tea, pink peppercorn, rose hip, vanilla, smoked meat, damp forest logs and sandalwood. Although not especially rich in body, it is otherwise distinctive, as raspberry cream sickle, candied violet, dry red rose, graphite and wild mushroom flavors join with the aromatic notes. Complex and lingering, it is never heavy and will be a fine match to many meals. 25 cases produced.

2014 Whitehall Lane Merlot Napa Valley

Polished and supple, this lovely wine pairs forthcoming fruit with intriguing hints of Oriental spices. The aromas are a harmonious mix of sweet dark plum, black raspberry, blueberry, black currant, violet, black fig, sandalwood, vanilla, baking-spice and mocha-coffee scents. It provides some unexpected zest on the palate, in support of black cherry, dried blueberry, dark plum, Asian plum sauce, sandalwood, coriander seed, mace, and bay leaf flavors. Chinese five-spice, star anise and a peppercorn undercurrent chime-in at the end. Already well-evolved and food-friendly, it will grow steadily more attractive over the next two years and beyond.

Deluxe

2012 Tantara Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley

Elegantly creamy and quietly rich, the nose of this fine Pinot molds sweet red plum, Bing cherry, allspice, white pepper, coriander and tobacco scents into an elegant package. Things are bolder and richer, yet attractively zesty on the palate, where plum and red berry fruit joins savory tobacco, mineral and dried herb flavors. The combination is delicious, lingering and altogether appealing right now, but it will be more so if given another two years in the cellar. 150 cases produced.

2014 Adelaida Picpoul “Estate” Anna’s Vineyard Adelaida District Paso Robles

Undramatic, yet rich in aromatic spice, the nose of this distinctive white offers suggestions of dried peach, preserved lemon, Persian raisin, honeysuckle, sugar cane, pineapple, white pepper, lemongrass, hazelnut husk, smoke and saline minerality. White pepper and nut husk flavors and drying mineral elements are first to strike the palate, yet these are quickly encompassed by fruitier impressions of lemon sorbet, white peach pit, dried orange peel and green apple. The finish is long, cutting-dry and attractively piquant, which make this one a perfect appetizer companion. 178 cases produced.

 

Shipped September 2016

Standard

2014 Betwixt Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains

This intense Chardonnay is as dramatic in character as it is deep in color. The nose is an exotic cornucopia of pear skin, apple skin, golden fig, yellow peach, pineapple, lemon peel, grapefruit sorbet, lemon grass, straw, nutmeg, creme brulee, brioche and nut husk scents. It proves as opulent in the mouth as expected, yet it’s piquant, as those pear and apple skin, nut husk and citric elements come-forth to counterpoint the richer flavors of orange honey, baked apple, golden fig, pineapple, baking spices and brioche. This ultra-zesty - ultra-rich combination highlights a lingering, beautifully food-worthy finish. It is ready to drink and calls for service with equally flavorful entrees. 50 cases produced.

2013 Griot Proprietary Red Wine California 56% Napa/44% Paso Robles

Dark cherry, pomegranate syrup, pink, white and Schezuan peppercorn, black raspberry, violet, date sugar, coffee bean and tobacco scents all play a part in the juicy aromatic makeup of this wine. It is round and creamy in the mouth, yet zest and a bit of tannic grip moderate all the richness to leave it dinner-friendly. The finish is a lingering mix of red currant, red raspberry, grenadine, “red vines” licorice, licorice root, clove, tobacco, cola, pink peppercorn, laurel and anise, with a suggestion of lavender. It is ready to enjoy. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot & Petite Verdot. 97 cases produced by Revenant Winery.

Red & Red

2013 Griot Proprietary Red Wine California 56% Napa/44% Paso Robles

Dark cherry, pomegranate syrup, pink, white and Schezuan peppercorn, black raspberry, violet, date sugar, coffee bean and tobacco scents all play a part in the juicy aromatic makeup of this wine. It is round and creamy in the mouth, yet zest and a bit of tannic grip moderate all the richness to leave it dinner-friendly. The finish is a lingering mix of red currant, red raspberry, grenadine, “red vines” licorice, licorice root, clove, tobacco, cola, pink peppercorn, laurel and anise, with a suggestion of lavender. It is ready to enjoy. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot & Petite Verdot. 97 cases produced by Revenant Winery.

2014 Muscardini Zinfandel Los Chamizal Vineyard Moon Mountain District Sonoma Valley

Vibrant, spicy, gutsy and intensely fruity, this dramatic Zinfandel is built for service with barbecued meats, braised beef short ribs and the like. The nose offers crisply focused dark cherry, pomegranate syrup, sour cherry, dried cranberry, black and white peppercorn, black tea and dark mineral scents. The wine is decidedly peppery on the palate, where black tea, sandalwood, graphite, licorice root, mineral and bay leaf notes provide savory contrast to deep sour cherry and pomegranate syrup centered fruit. Tannin, zest and minerality bring tension and food-worthiness to the ultra-long finish. Expect several years of positive development. Blended with 10% Petite Sirah, 578 cases produced.

Deluxe

2014 Solminer Blaufrankisch Delanda Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley

This distinctive and forthcoming bottling offers a very attractive aromatic mix of blueberry, teaberry, violet, berry cobbler, pink rose, cedar, green peppercorn and cardamom scents. On the palate, notes of peppercorn, dried orange and dried lemon peel bring extra piquancy to zesty flavors of cranberry liqueur, blueberry, red boysenberry, rose and violet, pushing the wine’s woody-savory elements into the background. The finish is lingering and beautifully food-worthy. This one will be terrific with seared duck breast or grilled salmon. 75 cases produced.

2013 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc Estate Howell Mountain Napa Valley

Youthfully reserved yet delightfully fruity-spicy this is a delicious wine with a bright future. The nose offers concentrated scents of gooseberry, golden fig, pineapple core, lemon grass, Seville orange zest, straw, nutmeg and creme brulee. It is firm, youthful and densely-packed on the palate, where quince and lemon sorbet dominate the rich display revealed in the nose. The finish is lingering if still a bit tightly-wound. Delicious already if served with the richer seafood dishes, it is certain to become significantly more graceful and generous over the next three years Blended with 6% Semillon, 524 cases produced.

 

Shipped August 2016

Standard

2014 County Line Syrah Sonoma Coast
This is a racy and distinctive Syrah with an “old world” feel. The nose is a zesty mix of red currant, cranberry, sour cherry, red raspberry, white pepper, Schezuan pepper, sumac berry, red rose, Thai basil, clove and jerk-spice scents. It is lean, fresh and just as complex on the palate, where flavors of dried cranberry, sumac berry and toasted grain are followed by supporting notes of fresh pomegranate, and Schezuan pepper. The finish is long and bright and food-worthy. Beautiful now with a fatty pork roast or grilled salmon, it should me even better in another eighteen to twenty-four months. 500 cases made.

2015 Campesino Grenache Blanc “Chiquis” Ceja Farms Sonoma Coast
This is a charming, subtle, yet truly satisfying wine that layers scents of lemon sorbet, quince, Mandarine orange, honeysuckle, yellow rose and wisps of raspberry over harder mineral notes. On the palate, the dominant lemon zest, lemon marmalade and quince flavors are joined by others of white pepper, apple skin, cantaloupe, fennel bulb and yellow rose above hints of chalky-minerality. It finishes long, elegant and bright, with a near-ideal dinner balance. 65 cases made.

Red & Red

2014 County Line Syrah Sonoma Coast
This is a racy and distinctive Syrah with an “old world” feel. The nose is a zesty mix of red currant, cranberry, sour cherry, red raspberry, white pepper, Schezuan pepper, sumac berry, red rose, Thai basil, clove and jerk-spice scents. It is lean, fresh and just as complex on the palate, where flavors of dried cranberry, sumac berry and toasted grain are followed by supporting notes of fresh pomegranate, and Schezuan pepper. The finish is long and bright and food-worthy. Beautiful now with a fatty pork roast or grilled salmon, it should me even better in another eighteen to twenty-four months. 500 cases made.

2015 Groundwork Couinoise Central Coast
As appealing served lightly-chilled, as at room temperature, this is a dandy summertime red. The nose offers pert aromas of lingonberry, red plum, red cherry and teaberry along with notes of star anise, pink peppercorn and rose. It is easy-going and zesty on the palate, where flavors of strawberry, watermelon, sandalwood and shortbread join the party. Zesty to the end, it is ready to drink and should be tasty with a wide variety of picnic fare. 280 cases produced, from the Old Potrero  & Mistral Vineyards. 50% whole cluster pressed, 50% carbonic maceration.

Deluxe

2013 Lateral Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley
Impressively complex, yet fruit-centered, this Meritage is built for sauced meats and rich stews. The nose is a floral, woodsy, fruity mix of red and black currant, pomegranate syrup, black raspberry, black fig, sassafras, cedar, vanilla, dark tobacco and Victorian toffee scents. It is rich and gutsy on the palate, where dark cherry and blackberry, clove, licorice root, expresso bean and peppercorn notes create a lingering, food-friendly match. Expect two years of steady improvement. A blend of 66% Merlot & 34% Cabernet Franc, from Katheryn Kennedy Winery. (2000) cases produced.

2014 Skipstone Viognier Estate Alexander Valley
This is a beautifully elegant Viognier, with brightly focused scents of fresh Royal Riviera pear, green apple, lemon marmalade, honeydew melon, jasmine, mock orange and brioche which rise above a firming mineral undercurrent. Intense zest and hard minerality create a stylish raciness on the palate, where flavors of pear liqueur, white peach, baked apple, orange marmalade, lemon curd, jasmine, vanilla wafers and brioche form a lingering, palate-coating marriage. The finish is super-long and super-rich, yet the zest and mineral influences make everything cutting-dry and brilliantly dinner-worthy. 300 cases produced.

 

Shipped July 2016

Standard

2014 Brooks Note Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
At once bright, rich, complex and spicy, the nose of this delicious bottling marries scents of candied orange peel, lemon sorbet, spiced green apple, kumquat marmalade, pear, lemongrass and a touch of vanilla to create a wine notable for its contrasts of freshness and elegant harmony. It is richer in body than expected on the palate, where the same contrasts of fresh fruit and citrus fan-out and linger. The lasting memory is of a zesty, slightly creamy wave of fresh pear, Meyer lemon sorbet, orange peel, orange cream sickle and vanilla wafer flavors. More or less ready to enjoy, it will show more creamy richness in another eighteen months or so. 50 cases produced.

2014 Fableist Tempranillo Fable # 067 Santa Barbara County
Bright, complex, surprisingly gutsy and age-worthy, this already appealing dinner wine well represents its varietal. The nose melds scents of red plum, black currant, orange peel, blackberry, clove, cinnamon, peppercorn and cedar into a tightly-wound package. It is sleek and slightly grippy on the palate, where quiet tannins and bright zest give structure to flavors of plum, berry, fig, orange peel, cedar, peppercorn, tea,tobacco, baking spices and a hint of thyme. Perfect for grilled spice-rubbed meats and sauced beef, it will be even more so in another two years. Fruit sourced from the Laetetia and Santa Barbara Highlands vineyards. 1250 cases produced.

Red & Red

2013 Harrington Lagrein Berardo Vineyard Paso Robles
This is a darkly fruity red, rich in savory counterpoints, which offers juicy aromas of pomegranate syrup, blueberry, mulberry, black peppercorn, bouillon and leather. On the palate, the character is just as dark, but everything seems more evolved and more obviously dinner-friendly despite some firming tannic grip. The lingering finish is dominated by notes of blueberry, mulberry, star anise, leather, bouillon and humidor spice. Seeming a perfect flavor match for dark stews, grilled steaks and caramelized roasts, it is already very appealing. It should become even more delicious over the next year or two. 30 cases produced.

2014 Fableist Tempranillo Fable # 067 Santa Barbara County
Bright, complex, surprisingly gutsy and age-worthy, this already appealing dinner wine well represents its varietal. The nose melds scents of red plum, black currant, orange peel, blackberry, clove, cinnamon, peppercorn and cedar into a tightly-wound package. It is sleek and slightly grippy on the palate, where quiet tannins and bright zest give structure to flavors of plum, berry, fig, orange peel, cedar, peppercorn, tea,tobacco, baking spices and a hint of thyme. Perfect for grilled spice-rubbed meats and sauced beef, it will be even more so in another two years. Fruit sourced from the Laetetia and Santa Barbara Highlands vineyards. 1250 cases produced.

Deluxe:

2013 ONX “Praetorian” Tempranillo Blend Templeton Gap Paso Robles
Altogether exotic yet impressively harmonious, this delicious red should only get better over the next four or five years. The nose is a panorama of fresh & dried fruit and sweet & savory spice scents, with dried herb and peppercorn accents. On the palate, things are both gutsy and sweet-natured as flavors of blueberry, black raspberry, black currant, crab apple syrup, violet, fig preserves, rice pudding, dates, tea, leather, star anise, pink, white and Schezuan peppercorn, clove and mocha seem to tumble from the glass, seeming ever longer as the wine airs. It should prove to be notably food-friendly. A blend of 61% Tempranillo, 23% Malbec, 14% Mourvedre & 2% Alicante Bouschet. 352 cases made.

2013 Albatross Ridge Chardonnay Estate Carmel Valley Monterey County
This wines complex perfume of baked Gravenstein apple, white peach pit, quince, pineapple core, mock orange blossom, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and toasted hazelnut rolls-out with seductive richness. There is a delightful and sophisticated piquancy on the palate, where nut husk, peach pit and chalky mineral notes counterpoint juicy-rich notes of baked apple, white peach, peach pit, quince jelly and pineapple core, above a rich undercurrent of honey,hazelnut, vanilla and mineral salts. If three years from its peak, it is delicious now and just cries out for luxuriously sauced entrees. 410 cases made.

 

Shipped June 2016

Standard:

2012 Calstar Cellars Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Vineyards Sonoma Coast
This stylish and flavorful Pinot Noir is also an fine value considering its famous fruit source. It is at once, fruity, spicy, floral and earthy. The aromas are a bright and harmonious mix of red cherry, strawberry, currant, whortleberry and red and black plum, poised above undercurrents of pink peppercorn, sumac berry, mulling spices, red rose, sandalwood and forest-floor scents. Hints of bouillon and minerals underpin those same flavors on the palate and through a supple, lingering finish that ends with a pretty burst of star anise and cinnamon. Elegant, delicious and nearing its full expression, it will be a terrific dinner companion. 136 cases produced.

2015 St. Amant Verdehlo “Miss Independent” Amador County
Bright and engaging, this delightful wine is varietally on-target, yet expansively complex. The nose offers a surprisingly harmonious mix fruit and spice: elegantly contrasting notes of pear, white peach, guava, passion fruit, pineapple core and melon rind with others of orange blossom, green pepper corn, white pepper and new-mown grass. It is perky, yet supple on the palate, where genteel suggestions of cantaloupe, orange zest, coconut and bay leaf join the cornucopia of flavors promise by the aromas. The finish lingers, with good refreshment. Ready to drink, it is a food-worthy and a notable value. 150 cases produced.

Red & Red:

2012 Calstar Cellars Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Vineyards Sonoma Coast
This stylish and flavorful Pinot Noir is also an fine value considering its famous fruit source. It is at once, fruity, spicy, floral and earthy. The aromas are a bright and harmonious mix of red cherry, strawberry, currant, whortleberry and red and black plum, poised above undercurrents of pink peppercorn, sumac berry, mulling spices, red rose, sandalwood and forest-floor scents. Hints of bouillon and minerals underpin those same flavors on the palate and through a supple, lingering finish that ends with a pretty burst of star anise and cinnamon. Elegant, delicious and nearing its full expression, it will be a terrific dinner companion. 136 cases produced.

2014 St. Amant Barbera “Tools of the Trade” Lodi
Rich and supple, yet never less than bright, this is very pretty Barbera. The nose offers red plum, red cherry, sour cherry, raspberry and red current fruit scents, supported by sweet-savory notes of pink peppercorn dry rose and baking-spice. It proves supple and quietly palate-coating, with notes of graham cracker, vanilla wafer and a hint of rosemary fleshing-out the flavor profile. Lingering and a delightful sipper, it will have wide food applications. 537 cases produced from 43 year old vines.

Deluxe:

2013 Steven Kent Cabernet Franc BDX Collection Ghielmetti Vineyard Livermore
This is a knockout Franc with a great future, and as it airs, a classy perfume of blueberry, black raspberry, violet, Italian Maraschino cherry, red plum, black tea, baking spices and anise wafts from the glass. On the palate it shows focus, concentration and structure, with no hint of heaviness, and its chiseled flavors carry into a quietly gripping, Bordeaux-esque finish notable for its precision and style. The lasting memory is of a polished wave of blueberry, violet and red and black fruits in seamless harmony with savory notes of black tea, root beer, baking-spice, tobacco, cedar and star anise. Expect three years of further improvement. 300 cases made.

2013 Kesner Chardonnay Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley
Rich in aroma, flavor and texture and well supported by citric zest, this is both a stylish and generous wine. The nose carries scents of fresh Fuji apple, baked apple, pear eau de vie, white peach, pineapple core, vanilla wafer, and baking spices. Those elements are enhanced on the palate by notes of lemon curd, orange blossom, coconut, white rose and  a firming mineral streak. The finish is polished and lingering and the richness, which builds as the wine airs, is neatly foiled by fruit acidity and hints of saline minerality. Already delicious and rich enough for the grandest cuisine, it will be even finer next year. 220 cases made.

 

Shipped May 2016

Standard:

2013 Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
This is a truly gorgeous Cabernet at a terrific price. The nose is an expansive perfume of black currant, blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, violet, sweet dark tobacco, date sugar, licorice root, cedar and vanilla. Black raspberry, black currant, violet, plum jam, black fig, baking spice, licorice root, peppercorn and sweet tobacco flavors are prominent on the palate, where the texture is sleek, the fruit focused and the intensity continues to build with exposure to air. Full of lingering fruit and spice and already seductive, it is sure to grow more so for another few years. 289 cases produced.

2014 Navarro Gewurztraminer  Estate "Dry” Anderson Valley
Beautifully balanced and elegantly complex, the nose of this pretty bottling frames scents of white peach, orange melon, jasmine, honeysuckle, white rose, coconut milk and white pepper into an engaging portrait. Things are even more stylish on the palate, where a quietly tongue-coating texture is brightened by white pepper, kumquat marmalade and nut husk notes. The flavors are seductive from start to finish, and the lasting memory is of their harmony, as melon, lychee, pear, peach, honeysuckle, jasmine and white rose fan out. 3180 cases produced.

Red & Red:

2013 Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
This is a truly gorgeous Cabernet at a terrific price. The nose is an expansive perfume of black currant, blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, violet, sweet dark tobacco, date sugar, licorice root, cedar and vanilla. Black raspberry, black currant, violet, plum jam, black fig, baking spice, licorice root, peppercorn and sweet tobacco flavors are prominent on the palate, where the texture is sleek, the fruit focused and the intensity continues to build with exposure to air. Full of lingering fruit and spice and already seductive, it is sure to grow more so for another few years. 289 cases produced.

2014 Saini Vineyards Zindandel Dry Creek Valley
A complex melange of ripe fresh fruit, dried fruit and savory spice, the nose of this juicy Zin crams notes of red and black cherry, plum jam, dried red currant, raspberry, red rose, black tea, black peppercorn and star anise into a very inexpensive package. It is weighty on the palate and as rich in flavor as expected, with the fresh and dried fruit notes in the forefront, but flavors of rose, black tea, tobacco, vanilla, star anise, clove and other baking spices in close support. Built for grilled meats and ripe cheeses, it is ready to enjoy. 990 cases produced.

Deluxe:

2012 On Q Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa Valley
Deep and seductive in aroma, this beauty delivers the appellation’s expected richness, but with an unexpected element of feminine charm. The nose is a rich medley of black cherry, blackberry, plum, red currant and chocolate-covered cherry, with accents of cinnamon stick, allspice, violet, laurel, lavender, dry rose, clove, star anise and black pepper. In the mouth, creamy opulence subdues the tannins, to let the cherry and mocha tones surge to the forefront, while genteel acidity and floral notes team up to further elevate the impression of class. The long and exceptionally dinner-friendly finish layers flavors of dark cherries, dark berries, dark chocolate, violet, licorice root, sweet tobacco, graphite and sweet baking spices to create a lovely harmony. Terrific now, it will be even more lovely with three years in the cellar. Blended with 2% Petite Sirah, 2% Petit Verdot & 1% Cabernet Franc, 348 cases made.

2013 Big Basin Chardonnay Coastview Vineyard Monterey
Contrasting suggestions of creamy richness and youthful zest are hallmarks in the nose of this beauty, yet it’s aromas of Gravenstein apple, lemon sorbet, pineapple soufflé, peach pit, green plum, white pepper, orange blossom, vanilla wafer and baking-spice achieve a surprising harmony. It proves both creamy and cutting-crisp on the palate, where lemon sorbet, apple skin, brioche and vanilla wafer flavors take center stage and all the other aromatic suggestions join in and linger. The result is a wine of class and intensity, suited for service with grand-scale seafood and white meat entrees. 200 cases produced.

 

Shipped April 2016

Standard:

2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Bright, rich, focused and elegantly composed, the aromas of this well priced Pinot seem those of a much more expensive wine. The nose is a bright, forthcoming layering of red raspberry, dark boysenberry, pomegranate, cranberry, blood orange, yellow rose, anise, sandalwood and coriander seed scents. It is medium-bodied, yet juicier than the nose suggests, and zesty red fruits and anise lead while the oaky spice elements become more visible. The finish is sleek and lingering and everything satisfies beautifully despite the wine’s evident youth. Expect another two years of further improvement.

2015 Kivelstadt Sauvignon Blanc “Family Secret” Indian Springs Ranch Sonoma Valley
This is an altogether intriguing white that is distinctive in both varietal personality and texture. Full of layered subtleties, the nose offers an exotic and extremely complex mix of lemon, lime, fresh apple, lemon grass, guava, kiwi, papaya, mango, rye seed, celery, yellow rose, white pepper and coriander seed aromas. Those diverse elements surface on the palate as well, yet the the mouth-feel shifts their emphasis, as counterpoints of tongue-coating richness and apple skin-like piquancy refocus the attention. The finish is long and elegantly dry, which makes the package especially food-worthy, so it could be just the thing to serve alongside grilled sea bass with a kumquat buerre blanc. 368 cases made.

Red & Red:

2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Bright, rich, focused and elegantly composed, the aromas of this well priced Pinot seem those of a much more expensive wine. The nose is a bright, forthcoming layering of red raspberry, dark boysenberry, pomegranate, cranberry, blood orange, yellow rose, anise, sandalwood and coriander seed scents. It is medium-bodied, yet juicier than the nose suggests, and zesty red fruits and anise lead while the oaky spice elements become more visible. The finish is sleek and lingering and everything satisfies beautifully despite the wine’s evident youth. Expect another two years of further improvement.

2012 Skylark Red Belly Proprietary Rhone Blend North Coast
This is a pretty and food-friendly red blend that has both bright fruit and soft edges. The nose rolls-out engaging scents of strawberry, red raspberry, black pepper and humidor-spice in a focused package. It is gently mouth-coating and quietly zesty on the palate, where white and black pepper, mineral hints and fruit acidity keep the contrasting red berry compote, baking spice and tobacco flavors in focus. The result, if never gutsy, is long and satisfying, so this attractive dinner wine is tasty all by itself. A blend of 38% Grenache, 35% Syrah & 27% Carignane. 650 cases produced.

Deluxe:

2012 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Leonardini Estate Napa Valley
The aromas of this captivating Cabernet are very ripe and very rich, as creamy vanilla, caramel, coffee-toffee and humidor-spice scents find a happy marriage to more assertive notes of blueberry, black cherry and black currant. The flavors prove as pretty and as deeply rich as expected, yet they are even more focused, and the blast of blueberry, violet, star anise and baking-spice that elevates the finish keeps the excitement growing. There is grip beneath it all, so the wine is likely at least four years from its peak, although its harmony and sweet nature make it hard to pass on right now.

2013 Chalone Chenin Blanc “Heritage Vines” Chalone District
This is a fabulous Chenin Blanc: a wine that proclaims its grape, appellation and the age of its vines from the first sip to the last. The nose is a densely-packed, focused mix of pear skin, dried lemon peel, spiced fresh apple, brioche, honeysuckle and melon sorbet scents, married to a deep strain of almost oily minerality. It is wonderfully deep and juicy-rich on the palate, where it layers lavish fruit and spice over icy minerality and piquant notes of apple skin, nut hust and lemon sorbet. Everything seems remarkably fresh, despite the wines sensational intensity, and the deep pear skin, pear liqueur, peach pit, fresh apple, grapefruit zest, Meyer lemon sorbet, honeysuckle and chalky mineral flavors last for minutes. Destined to live for ten to twenty years, it is irresistible now. 281 cases produced.

 

Shipped March 2016

Standard:

2013 Ch. Igai Takaha “Ula Ula” Proprietary Red Wine Santa Barbara County
This is a very satisfying, if quite exotic, Bordeaux grape blend. with a varietal personality that is extremely accurate, but a zest and sleekness of texture that is unexpected. The nose offers a focused mix of black raspberry, Amarena cherry, red currant, rose, cedar, licorice root and baking spice scents. Those same flavors prove bright and racy on the palate, and they linger nicely, with hints of sassafras, tobacco, black tea and leather added-on in a lingering, notably food-worthy finish. Likely to improve for another year or two, it should be especially appealing with fatty and sauced beef dishes, while it’s style might prove just as attractve with a spicy chicken or rabbit stew. A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet franc & 20% Merlot. 150 cases produced.

2014 Idle Cellars Chardonnay Catherine Bonneau Vineyard Carneros
This is a delightful, flavor-packed Chardonnay that is ready to enjoy. The nose poises fruity aromas of white peach, green apple, pineapple core, cantaloupe rind, white strawberry, lime zest, white rose and orange blossoms above rich accents of brioche, nutmeg  and vanilla wafers. On the palate it rolls-out a creamy texture, yet it’s zesty underpinnings keep it “light on it’s feet”. The finish is a lingering reprise of everything offered by the aromas, which stamps this wine as a noteworthy bargain. 230 cases produced.

Red & Red:

2013 Ch. Igai Takaha “Ula Ula” Proprietary Red Wine Santa Barbara County
This is a very satisfying, if quite exotic, Bordeaux grape blend. with a varietal personality that is extremely accurate, but a zest and sleekness of texture that is unexpected. The nose offers a focused mix of black raspberry, Amarena cherry, red currant, rose, cedar, licorice root and baking spice scents. Those same flavors prove bright and racy on the palate, and they linger nicely, with hints of sassafras, tobacco, black tea and leather added-on in a lingering, notably food-worthy finish. Likely to improve for another year or two, it should be especially appealing with fatty and sauced beef dishes, while it’s style might prove just as attractve with a spicy chicken or rabbit stew. A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet franc & 20% Merlot. 150 cases produced.

2014 Neighborhood Vineyards Cabernet Franc “Mountains to Sand” Santa Ynez Valley
This is an impressively rich Cab Franc at a great price. The nose is a complex melange of black cherry, black raspberry, dark plum, black fig, root beer, cedar, white pepper, leather and star anise scents. It proves as rich as expected on the palate, where all that black fruit finds an elegant and lingering harmony with sweet-natured notes of licorice root, black tea, root beer, dates, mulling spices, sandalwood and tobacco. There is length and balance to the finishing flavors so, although further improvement is a certainty, current pleasure is also assured. 225 cases produced.

Deluxe:

2009 Caraccioli Sparkling Brut Rose Santa Lucia Highlands
Pristine focus, intense zest and stony dryness give the nose of this stunningly impressive bubbly a classically French cast. The aromas, at once hard-edged and forthcoming, are a marriage of strawberry, peach pit, Meyer lemon sorbet, English biscuit and chalky mineral scents. The wine is extremely rich in body, but its chiseled minerality, zest and stony dryness make the mouth-feel lean and cutting, so the strawberry, peach, lemon and biscuit flavors stand in high relief. The finish is even more mineral-laced, while the fruit is deep and persistent. The result is a racy wine with a blast of finishing elegance. Gorgeous from start to finish, it is worthy of the finest cuisine affordable. 683 cases produced.

2013 Viluko Malbec Estate Sonoma County
Appealing from when the cork is pulled and considerably better as it airs, this is a very impressive Malbec. The nose blends rich aromas of black plum, black currant, Creme de Cassis, cracked black pepper, black tea, date molasses, cedar, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick into a gutsy-rich package. On the palate it is opulently oaked and shows classic Malbec grip which firm and tighten-up the fruit a bit. The finish is ultra-long however, and with airing the fruit starts to really roll out, with black cherry and clove prominent elements. Best at this point with churrasco grilled entrees, darkly caramelized roasts and the like, it should become more versatile with more age. Expect at least four years of steady improvement. 115 cases produced, from a vineyard located in the new Fountaingrove District appellation.

 

Shipped February 2016

Standard:

2013 Odonata Malbec Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Vista Lodi
This is a quietly rich and ultimately very seductive Malbec, with a nose that melds scents of sweet red plum, red raspberry jam, black currant, black fig, Mr. Lincoln rose, coffee toffee and hints of black peppercorn and graphite into an elegantly composed and focused melange. On the palate, is is both structured and rich, yet shows no hint of textural roughness. The flavors of boysenberry, red plum jelly, blueberry, red apple skin, anise, coffee toffee, date molasses, dark tobacco, cinnamon and other baking spices are lingering and very food-friendly. Everything about this wine satisfies. 240 cases produced.

2014 Phillips Hill Gewurztraminer Valley Foothills Vineyard Anderson Valley
Never flamboyantly floral, but satisfying from the start, this is a delightful Gewurztraminer. The nose offers a subtle medley of Meyer lemon, green melon, mango, strawberry guava, lychee and honeysuckle scents. On the palate, it is soft-edged, yet quietly zesty, with subtle flavors of green apple, jasmine, lemon creme pie, peach, ginger and white pepper joining those notes promised by the aromas. Lingering and never less than genteel, it is an engaging sipper that will be a fine companion to many foods. It is ready to enjoy. 220 cases produced.

Red & Red:

2013 Odonata Malbec Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Vista Lodi
This is a quietly rich and ultimately very seductive Malbec, with a nose that melds scents of sweet red plum, red raspberry jam, black currant, black fig, Mr. Lincoln rose, coffee toffee and hints of black peppercorn and graphite into an elegantly composed and focused melange. On the palate, is is both structured and rich, yet shows no hint of textural roughness. The flavors of boysenberry, red plum jelly, blueberry, red apple skin, anise, coffee toffee, date molasses, dark tobacco, cinnamon and other baking spices are lingering and very food-friendly. Everything about this wine satisfies. 240 cases produced.

2013 La Storia Cabernet Sauvignon Trentadue Vineyard Sonoma County Alexander Valley Estate
Sweetly ripe, focused and boldly fruit-forward, the nose of this delicious Cabernet offers a bright mix of black cherry, black currant, blueberry and black licorice, along with suggestions of dried sage, laurel and tobacco. The wine proves gutsier and attractively mineral-accented on the palate, where black currant and licorice notes are center stage. The finish is dry and lingering, with a blast of dark berries and anise at the end. It will serve nicely with grilled meats, dark roasts and winter treats.

Deluxe:

2013 Revenant Syrah “One” Napa Valley
Appealing from the moment the cork is pulled, the nose of this Syrah rolls out as a rich and focused wave of black cherry, black currant, dried cherry, red vines, black fig, jerk spice, bouillon, black peppercorn, licorice root, fig bar and molasses cookie scents. On the palate the tannins prove notable mostly as a background element, for the wine’s mouth-coating texture, sweet-natured push of flavor and dinner-worthy style keeps them under the radar. Those flavors are harmonious and lingering, and leave a memory of fresh and dried black cherries, black currants, figs, licorice root, clove,peppercorn, molasses, bay leaves and dark earth. Quite delicious now, it should grow in dimension and drink beautifully over the next five to ten years. 35 cases produced.

2004 Katheryn Kennedy Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Cuvee 27 Santa Cruz Mountains
Delicious, wonderfully aromatic, exquisitely balanced and altogether distinctive, this is an absurdly underpriced bubbly. The nose is an enchanting perfume of sweet apple sauce, apple skin, yellow peach pit, white peach, yellow rose, and honeysuckle wrapped in cashmere-like layers of chestnut honey, toasted merangue, creme brulee and a suggestions of marzipan. It is airily feminine and surprisingly zesty-minerally on the palate, where the texture has a sleek raciness to counterpoint the wines penetrating flavors of Meyer lemon zest, fresh apple, white peach, quince sorbet and it’s “riverstone” mineral undercurrents. The finish poises bright lemon-mineral notes versus a lingering wave of white peach, chestnut honey, hazelnut and creme brulee. Ready to drink, it is aristocratic from start to finish. 600 6-6 packs produced. This wine is disgorged as needed!

 

Shipped January 2016

Standard:

2012 Five Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley
This is a rich and flavorful Cabernet with focus, balance and fine length. The nose offers scents of black currant, blackberry, licorice root, cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, smoky bacon and a hint of mint. Things are both forthcoming and slightly exotic on the palate, where black currant, black cherry, black peppercorn, Asian plum sauce, Hoisin sauce, anise, sandalwood and baking-spice flavors find a surprisingly attractive harmony. Ready to enjoy, it will be terrific with Winter’s rich meat entrees. 100 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 697 cases produced.

2014 Corkscrew Riesling "Luma Blanc" Sonoma Coast
This decidedly dinner-friendly Riesling shows subtly complex scents of Asian pear, baked apple, preserved lemon, dried peach and kiwi, with hints of coconut, vanilla and sandalwood in the background. In the mouth it is medium to light in body, yet gently palate-coating and fully dry, with flavors that elegantly mirror the aromas. The finish is lingering, with lots of dried peach and a hint of sandalwood at the end. 125 cases produced.

Red & Red:

2012 Five Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley
This is a rich and flavorful Cabernet with focus, balance and fine length. The nose offers scents of black currant, blackberry, licorice root, cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, smoky bacon and a hint of mint. Things are both forthcoming and slightly exotic on the palate, where black currant, black cherry, black peppercorn, Asian plum sauce, Hoisin sauce, anise, sandalwood and baking-spice flavors find a surprisingly attractive harmony. Ready to enjoy, it will be terrific with Winter’s rich meat entrees. 100 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 697 cases produced.

2013 Damselfy Petite Sirah Central Coast
This Petite Sirah has the weight and guts of a pricier wine, along with lots of dark fruit and spice to compliment winter foods. The nose is a focused mix of blackberry, blueberry, black currant, violet, Schezuan and black peppercorn scents, with plenty of savory spice in reserve. In is meduim-bodied, yet decidedly gutsy on the palate, where dark fruit and savory counterpoints hover above a firm undercurrent of polished, but noticeable tannin. The finish is complex and lingering, and the dark berry and peppercorn notes gain depth from others of black tea, black olive, cola, bitter chocolate, sandalwood and laurel. A textbook steak wine, it will nicely match rich entrees of many sorts. 110 cases produced.

Deluxe:

2014 La Voix Pinot Noir "Rebel Rebel" Quinta del Mar Vineyard San Luis Obispo
This lovely Pinot is clearly still young, yet it is already appealing for its bright fruit, rich oak tones and complex fruity-savory interplay. The nose offers aromas of blueberry, teaberry, Maraschino cherry, sandalwood, star anise, baking spices and a hint of sweet tobacco. The wine is medium-bodied and gently zesty on the palate, where flavors of tobacco, caramel and toasted fig counterpoint the rich notes of blueberry and teaberry. It closes with a bright and lingering finish and is notably food-worthy, although it should be much more interesting if given another eighteen months or so of cellar time. Debut release.

2014 Lewis Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley
This is a flavorful yet more elegantly-styled Chardonnay than is typical for Lewis. The nose is a bright melange of fresh apple, grapefruit zest, vanilla wafer and cream pie scents. The wine proves as elegantly balanced on the palate, where baked apple, citrus, vanilla cream and hints of toasted nuts and coconut find harmony. The finish is lingering, rich and quietly zesty. Delightful already, it should grow rounder and more complex over the next few years. 2000 cases produced.