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Cellar Club

Cellar Club – July 2017

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Pinot Envy

Pinot Noir: everyone’s favorite grape variety next to Cabernet Sauvignon. Its bright red fruity aromas and flavors, low tannin profile, paired with a little French oak and you have a crowd-pleasing red begging for any scenario. Pinot Noir is the chameleon of wines in that you can pair it with an array of food including salmon or duck or enjoy on its own! The one downfall: unattractive price point. Luckily for you, this wine of month is focusing on other varieties related to this noble grape that also come at a more everyday-drinking price tag.

Darting Pinot Meunier- Pfalz, Germany
One of the three noble varieties used in blends of Champagne, Pinot Meunier is considered to be vital in adding fruitiness and freshness to the power of Pinot Noir and the grace of Chardonnay. In this instance, we are tasting a still red version from the Pfalz region in Germany. Darting has a history of grape growing dating to 1780 and it was not until 1989 that the winery began to sell all of their grapes as wine under their own label. The family also maintains a highly regarded vine nursery, selling their grafted vines throughout Germany. Current winemaker Helmut Darting believes firmly in minimal-intervention winemaking as he feels that “everytime you handle a wine, you diminish it”. These practices include fermenting as slow as possible at a cold temperature in stainless steel, using only natural yeasts, and avoiding the introduction of oxygen in the winemaking process. This pinot meunier is fermented on their skins in stainless steel and then transferred to large oak casks. The only time the wine is handled is after racking, transfer of wine from one storage container to another using gravity, is to finish the wine by bottling.
Warwick Pinotage- Stellenbosch, South Africa
Pinotage is a grape crossing of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir. It was first crossed in South Africa in 1925 in the gardens of scientist Abraham Perold. Perold observed how Pinot Noir struggled in South Africa’s climate, so he crossed them with a very productive species: Cinsaut (called Hermitage). Perold’s goal was to create a wine that was as delicious as Pinot Noir but grew as well as Cinsaut. The result of the crossing between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir was unexpected. The Pinotage grapes were extremely dark in color and the wine they created was bold and high in tannin and anthocyanin —nothing its the progenitors. Despite the difference in flavor, Pinotage would eventually become the 2nd most planted grape in South Africa. Warwick Estate is a family-owned and run winery. Managing Director Michael Ratcliffe is the 3rd generation family member to oversee this high quality boutique operation. From 1771 till 1902, Warwick was known as the farm ‘De Goede Sukses’. After the Anglo Boer war ended in 1902, Colonel William Alexander Gordon, Commanding Officer of the Warwickshire regiment bought the historic farm. He renamed it ‘Warwick’ as a tribute to his regiment and the rest, as they say, is history. In this months feature of Pinotage you’ll notice red and black cherries, tobacco, barnyard, coffee, and a chuggable palate.

Koehler- Ruprecht Pinot Blanc- Pfalz, Germany
Koehler-Ruprecht has existed since the 1700’s, but Bernd Phillipi’s hard work over the last 30 years has solidified the winery’s world class reputation. In the vineyard, no irrigation, fertilizers or herbicides are ever used, and systemic treatments against pests or fungal illness are kept to a minimum, only in the rare cases when necessary. In the cellar, long spontaneous fermentations occur in large, old German oak barrels with extended lees contact. Nothing is ever added or subtracted to the wine, and sulfur is only added moderately after alcoholic fermentation and before bottling. This 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Pinot Blanc is sourced from two of their three single vineyard sites, Stenacker and Saumagen, mostly comprised of limestone soils. This particular vintage airs more on the drier side for this varietal and harvested from older vines between 40 and 50 years old. Loads of savory orchard and tropical fruits on the nose paired with a round and creamy palate and a touch of acidity.

Cellar Club – June 2017

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In June, we travel to my favorite wine growing region in all of France! You’ll find the Loire River Valley situated about 2 hours drive south of Paris. The region is next to many of France’s most famous drink regions: it’s directly north of Cognac, south of Normandy (cider!), and west of Burgundy. The Loire, as a whole, is very diverse in wine styles, in climate, in geography, and in geology. For this reason, it can be divided into three primary growing areas:
1. Lower Loire: Pays Nantais
Landscape: The majority of the vineyards are found on the flat, south facing banks of the Loire, Sèvre, and Maine Rivers. The Atlantic Ocean is very close, from 6–60 miles (10–96 km) to the west, so the climate is maritime with cold, damp, stormy winters, cool cloudy springs, warm humid summers, and often blustery falls. Sounds a bit like Seattle, WA.
Soil: The soils in Pays Nantais are predominantly volcanic (igneous) with top-soils of porous gneiss (granite-like rock). So, this means vineyards have good drainage, which is ideal for the wet climate.

2. Middle Loire: Anjou, Saumur, and Touraine
Landscape: The blustery and damp maritime weather is tempered as you move inland. The seasons are more defined and the climate is more hospitable.

Soil: The soil types are as numerous as the varieties of grapes. There are four main sub-regions:
• Anjou: around the city of Angers
• Layon: a sweet wine region located along the Layon River, encompassed by Anjou
• Saumur
• Touraine: Around the city of Tours

3. Upper Loire: Centre
The Upper (or Central/Centre) Loire is the smallest region, but it’s home to the most famous Loire appellations–Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Sauvignon Blanc from these two areas are emulated throughout the wine world.
In many ways, this area has more in common with the Burgundy region of Chablis, than with the rest of the Loire Valley. The climate is what can be called semi-continental with big differences in the daytime and nighttime temperatures (the diurnal swing). Frost is always a concern during spring and fog engulfs the valley in the fall.
Centre is closest to the source of the Loire River in the Massif Central Mountains and the majority of the vineyards are found along the river where they take advantage of its temperature moderating influence. The soils vary quite a bit with three distinct soil types, all found atop a base of Kimmeridgian Limestone, (the same as Chablis, parts of Champagne, and the white cliffs of Dover).

Now for the stars!

Francois Chidaine Clos du Breuil- Chenin Blanc
Montlouis is an appellation of 400 hectares located directly across the river from Vouvray. In fact, until it was granted AOC status in 1937, Montlouis wines were produced under the Vouvray appellation. The soils in both places are quite similar: sandy clay on a base of tuffeau. Some say that a slightly higher percentage of sand and pebbles in the Montlouis soils makes the wines a bit leaner than the wines of Vouvray. For us, this trait adds to the charm of Montlouis’s sec wines, giving them a lively crispness on the palate and outstanding minerality. François Chidaine worked alongside his father Yves for many years, and today he devoutly manages an estate blessed with vines between 40 and 80 years old. He works his vineyards biodynamically, but does not want any mention of biodynamic viticulture on his bottles even though the estate has been Demeter certified since 2003. For Francois, it is about the work not the notoriety. He is a true champion of the Chenin Blanc grape and touts its ability to produce vibrant wines that age gracefully. Francois is happiest on his tractor or with his hands in the dirt, but being among his barrels is a close second. In the glass: A beautifully expressive nose, with desiccated orchard fruits, sweet and very primary, but very convincing too. It has lovely clean fruit on the palate, reminiscent of a golden orchard mix, bright and also lightly mineral, with a super texture and pithy finish.

Anne Claude Leflaive Clau de Nell- Cabernet Franc
Anne-Claude Leflaive (of Burgundy’s Domaine Leflaive) and Christian Jacques purchased Clau de Nell in 2008; Sylvain Potin joined the team as estate manager in 2009. The property is comprised of 10 hectares of vines on a gently sloping hill surrounded by open countryside. The highest point of Clau de Nell offers a glimpse of the Loire in the distance; from here, an uninterrupted view unveils the sky and the river on the horizon, as well as rows of Grolleau, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. As with Domaine Leflaive, all of Clau de Nell’s wines are 100 percent biodynamic. Since the passing of Anne Claude Leflaive, Christian Jacques and Sylvain Potin are commited to keep her legacy alive through the biodynamic path and pursuit of the terroir’s finest expression. In the glass: elegant dark red and black berries, violets, cinnamon and plenty of earthen funk! Rich on the palate but structured by dramatic acidity.

Cellar Club – May 2017

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Where to begin when discussing Bordeaux?  That is tough question to answer.  Let’s start with a few basics.  Bordeaux is the world’s most famous wine-producing region (Sorry Burgundy or Napa!).  It produces age-worthy white, red and sweet wines.  What other region can claim as much?  None.

What are the wines produced in Bordeaux?  A quick look at the geography and terroir of western France will give us some cont

ext.  Bordeaux is a port city on the Gironde River.  Upstream are two important tributaries: the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.  These waterways play an important factor in three ways: mediating the cool temperatures found at the 45th parallel, increasing humidity (instrumental in grape rot which produces the king of dessert wines, Sauternes) and serving as informal boundaries between Bordeaux’s many sub-regions.

Generally, the region is split into ‘left bank’ and ‘right bank’: Medoc and Graves on the west (or ‘left bank’ of the Gironde River), St. Emilion and Pomerol on the east (or ‘right bank’ of the Gironde).  Between these two is Entre-Deux-Mers (‘between the two seas’).

Most of the famous communes exist on the gravelly highlands of the left bank: Margaux, Pauillac, St-Julien, Pauillac, and St Estephe.

Bordeaux is most famous for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s most widely planted grape is Merlot.  Merlot dominates on the right bank, where wetter, cooler soils make it difficult for Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen (Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat – witness Napa Valley!)  Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot also grown here and play supporting roles in a traditional blend.  A red Bordeaux is almost always a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  The wines age in oak barrels.  Typical aromas and flavors are cassis, plum, pencil lead, cedar, and violets.  The reds can be quite tannic and structured.

Bordeaux’s white and sweet wines are based on Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon.  There is also a very small percentage of Muscadelle produced but it is never more than a bit player.  Dry white wines are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc blended with some Semillon.  Typical aromas for the whites are lemon curd, gooseberry, white flowers, honey, and fresh herbs.  The sweet wines are usually Semillon-based, as it is greatly affected by botrytis, or noble rot, which dehydrates grapes, concentrates the grapes’ sugars, and adds an exotic spicy, honeyed character to a Sauternes or Barsac.

That’s a lot information, I know.  What is important to take away is that Bordeaux produces great wines of all different types, price points, and styles.  We have chosen a few examples this month to get you started, minus the dessert wine.  We are pouring a great Sauternes in the Wine Bar, please stop in and have a taste!



(Pessac Leognan) – White

Grapes: 80{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sauvignon Blanc, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sémillon

Aging: 10 months in barrel & cask (25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new)

Farming: Organic

Chateau Carbonnieux has a long history in Bordeaux – records indicate it was created when a family called “Carbonius” or Carbonnieu cleared and cultivated land near Léognan in 1234.  Thomas Jefferson tasted at the estate in 1786!  The Perrin family purchased Carbonnieux in 1956 – the third generation is being groomed to take over very soon.

Pessac-Léognan is world-renowned for producing some the best dry white wines in the world from clay/limestone soils (marl).  Vintage 2014 is notable for vivacity & freshness.  The house style is always very precise & clean, so the wine is especially focused in 2014.

Look for: A mix of citrus fruits, lime blossoms, crushed rocks, & bit of herbs.  A natural with all kinds of fish, chicken & vegetarian dishes.

“The 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc has a detailed and vivacious bouquet offering attractive blackcurrant leaf and citrus aromas, hints of almond and white chocolate just tucked in nicely below the surface. The palate is well balanced with a slice of bitter lemon on the entry.”  92 Points, The Wine Advocate.

 $35 / Bottle



 Grapes: 65{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon, 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Aging: 12 months in barrique, 30{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new

Farming: Sustainable

Chateau Lalande Borie took its name from its owner, Jean Eugene Borie.  The current owner is Bruno Borie (owner of several estates in Saint Julien, and in the Haut-Medoc, but he is most famous for owning Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou).  Bruno Borie manages the estate along with his sister, Sabine Coiffe.  Chateau Lalande is a relatively new estate in the Medoc – the vineyard was initially created when the Borie family purchased 18 hectares of vines from Chateau Lagrange in 1970.  Lalande-Borie lies to the west of Ducru Beaucaillou on a single plot of 40 acre plot not far from illustrious neighbors Chateau Lagrange, Chateau Talbot and Chateau Gruaud Larose.

The vineyards are higher in elevation and further back from the Gironde estuary, produces a wine with plenty of typical St. Julien characteristics – rich cherry fruits, deep and smooth – but which matures a little quicker than its neighbors. The soils are a mix of gravel and clay. The high clay content is part of the reason that Merlot plays such a prominent role in the blend.

Look for: Smooth.  Juicy blackberry & blackcurrant fruits, hints of pencil lead & violets.  Classic Bordeaux in its presentation while still being extremely drinkable.  Have with a steak or burgers from the grill.

Cellar Club – April 2017

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“Spring Has Sprung!”

In Florida we get two seasons: hot and hotter. But there is a brief moment of weather-sanctity between the two where one might enjoy a refreshing beverage on the porch without fear of heat exhaustion. It is in that interlude I want these wines to bloom and be apart of. April focuses on the lighter to medium-bodied wines that display freshness and brightness while also showcasing a new importer of natural wines in Florida, City Beautiful. This company shares the same passion as Cru in supporting small-production, family-owned, organic wineries that possess an approach to wine-making that is extremely low-intervention.

Borell-Diehll Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany

In 1990 Annette Borell and Thomas Diehl married and created Borell-Diehl by joining their families’ three wineries into one. Starting with a total of 5 hectares, they have since expanded to 33 hectares of vineyards, all within 5km of Hainfeld, about 1/2 hour drive from Deidesheim. Their holdings are a complex geology of loess, limestone, red sandstone, with deposits of minerally muschelkalk (limestone) in some sites.

Annette and Thomas’ oldest son George is now poised to take over leadership at the estate. Having staged at important addresses like Rebholz (Pfalz) Wittmann (Rheinhessen), and Von Volxem (Saar), as well as an internship in New Zealand in 2016, he will continue the winery’s focus on quality wines of extraordinary value. The wine is exquisitely fruity, silken textured, dry Spatburgunder from the sunny Pfalz. Hand-harvested from estate-owned sites, tank-fermented and aged in large, neutral (3+yrs old) French oak barrels. This is Pinot in a modern, easy style with modest alcohol, fresh cherry themed fruit and a lip-smacking finish.

Benjamin Taillandier Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Languedoc, France

In 2007, winemaker Benjamin Taillandier settled in his family’s hometown of Caunes-Minnervois, which sits between the ancient city of Carcassone and The Montagne Noir. He purchased 5.7ha of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Terret Gris and began working it organically, eventually converting all of it over to biodynamics.  Each year he added a plot to his estate and now he works 9.5 ha all by hand and now fully Ecocert certified. He also runs a terrific wine bar downtown called Cantine du Curé which is open during the summer tourist season. Benjamin feels that many of the wines in the Minnervois AOC are too concentrated and alcoholic, and works hard to make wines that, while full flavored, are lighter, fresher and lower in alcohol than most average wines from the Languedoc. Indeed, there is a level of liveliness in this wines that you seldom see in the wines of the region, Benjamin is  happily introducing people to the concept of Minnervois “vin de soif”.

Weingut Jurtsitsch Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria

Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife, Stefanie Hasselbach (of Gunderloch fame in the Rheinhessen). Alwin and Stef are leaders in the natural wine movement in the Kamptal. It’s a unique story because they happen to have the oldest winery in the area, dating back to the 16th century. In 2006 they rented out some of their land to focus their attention on quality rather than quantity and converted all vineyards to organic. Their “house style”, which you will find in this months Gruner Veltliner, is all about preserving freshness and elegance rather than power. After taking over the domain from Alwin’s three uncles the winery’s philosophy underwent a change, “Our wine style became more ‘polarising‘, characterised by the idea of terroirs without compromise” says Stephanie. They only use spontaneous fermentations and work without any additions, aside from minimal sulfur. The entry level wines are made in stainless steel, but all of the single-vineyard Erste Lagen wines are aged in large oak foudres. The wines shine in multi-faceted elegance, offering drinking pleasure at highest level without being baroque and heavy. This Gruner shows intense aromas of fruit and blossoms, it is fresh and spicy, at the same time complex and mouth-filling with a lively acidity. What we like to call a “porch pounder”!

Cellar Club – March 2017

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This month’s wines from Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard in the Finger Lakes, upstate New York are wines that I have long admired and enjoyed.  Recently, the wines became available in the Tampa market and I jumped at the opportunity to showcase them for you.  My first exposure to Wiemer came while I was working in various wine programs in New York City.  I met and tasted with Oskar Bynke, current co-owner/estate manager/head of marketing and immediately fell in love with the Rieslings.  The purity and aromatic complexity these wines possessed was revelation, especially considering I am German Riesling fanatic!

Hermann Wiemer is a pioneering figure in the history of New York wine.  Wiemer was born to make wine – his mother’s family had over 300 years of winemaking experience in the Mosel, and his father was responsible for restoring vines in that region after World War II. Hermann grew up learning to graft vines by hand with his father before attending prestigious German winemaking and viticultural institutions. When Hermann moved to New York he discovered that the western shore of Seneca Lake was quite similar to the cool climate and gravelly soils of the Mosel. Using his grafting skills, Wiemer planted one of the first successful vinifera vineyards on Seneca Lake in 1976.  This ran in parallel to the fine wine revolution in California that exploded after Steven Spurrier’s legendary ‘Judgement of Paris’ tasting (where California Chardonnays and Cabernets faired well in a blind tasting against classics from Bordeaux and Burgundy).

Hermann retired in 2007, leaving selling the winery to agronomist Oskar Bynke and Wiemer’s right hand man, Fred Merwarth.  The Finger Lakes are not an easy place to grow grapes: the winters are brutally cold, spring frosts are common, and the summers are humid and often rainy.  Both Oskar and Fred are committed to continuing Hermann’s vision based on meticulous, precise vineyard management and winemaking.  Oskar says,

“Our future plan for the winery is to elevate the quality. Although we are one of the oldest in the Finger Lakes, we are very young compared to the other regions of the world. We are still working on our plantings, viticulture, and vinification methods. The winery has a history of being very agriculturally driven, in the sense that we have little intervention in the winery. Instead, we focus on the quality of the fruit. We continue to review the potential of our sites with better management. We use an organic spray program with no herbicides and no pesticides, and we will try to grasp the powers that are out of our control-flirting with Steiner (the father of biodynamic farming) a small bit… The goal is not only to make very high quality wines, but also to elevate the wines of the whole region by spearheading the Finger Lakes as the premier Riesling terroir of the country ….it is in pursuit of Hermann’s determined philosophy that we combine the best of old-world viticulture practices with sustainable modern techniques in our nursery, vineyard, and winemaking and ensure that our wines embody the finest expression of our vineyards”.

Oskar sums up concisely why we love Wiemer wines: they are authentic, handmade, environmentally responsible, and most of all, delicious!

Riesling Reserve Dry 2015

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Riesling

Sustainably farmed.

Whole cluster pressed.  No fining or filtration.

The Reserve Dry Riesling, made from a small selection of grapes meticulously chosen from Wiemer’s 3 single vineyards.  Each vineyard’s wines are fermented separately and then blended prior to bottling.  Highly aromatic and extremely complex, we find a mix of tangy stone fruits and citrus zest balanced by a stony minerality, unctuous texture and an electric, crisp finish.

From the Wine Advocate, “The Dry Riesling Reserve is, according to winemaker Fred Merwath, about 90{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Auslese level in ripeness. It is a luscious Riesling that seems round and rich, but as with most of what Wiemer makes, there is ample attention here to age-worthiness and structure. Underneath, there is fine acidity that cuts through the dense fruit. Then, it never seems as rich again, eventually showing more and more power on the finish. This is something you can sink your teeth into”.

Cabernet Franc Magdalena Vineyard 2014

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Sustainably farmed.

Whole cluster pressed.  8 months in Hungarian oak barrels.  No fining or filtration.

The Cabernet Franc Magdalena Vineyard is selected from a 2.5 acre plot at the warm, northern end of the Magdalena site. Extended skin contact, whole-cluster pressing, and time in younger Hungarian oak barrels impart a structure and depth to this full-bodied red. Dense tannins and prominent tobacco notes hint at the ageabilty of this Cabernet Franc though it will drink energetically while young.  Decant for an hour before drinking and enjoy with one your favorite roasted red meat dishes or with a multitude of cheeses.

A recent Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast, the Magdalena Cab Franc scored 93 points, “­Hermann J. Wiemer may be synonymous with New York Riesling, but its Cabernet Francs are consistently some of the best reds made in the state. Subdued shades of cigar box, cedar and tomato leaf lend savory, Old-World elegance to this ripe, richly concentrated wine. Pristine blackberry and plum flavors are juicy and penetrating yet briskly composed. A bristle of soft, cocoa powder tannins extends the finish.”

Cellar Club – January 2017

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Welcome to Cru Cellars’ Tour of Sicilian Wines

Sicily is a great place to be in the world of wine. After millennia of bulk wine production (which was often sent north to Piedmont or Burgundy to enrich lightly-colored & flavored wines in bad vintages), fine wine production has exploded in the last 20 years focused indigenous varieties & styles that emphasize freshness & complexity.

Sicily is a complex place to produce wine. There are vast differences in climate, rainfall, soil types & grape varieties depending on which part of the island at which you are looking. We are going to focus on 3 regions: Vittoria in the south, Mount Etna in the east & the central, interior highlands near Palermo.

Red – COS Maldafrica 2012 (IGT)

* Grapes: Merlot 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22}

* Organically farmed

* Fermented in terracotta amphorae, aged in used wood barrels

COS is one of the most exciting wineries in Italy. It was founded in 1980 by three friends: Giambattista Cilia, Cirino Strange and Giusto Occhipinti. The acronym of their surnames (Cilia-Occhipinti-Strange) gives rise to the company’s name. Their production is based in southern Sicily near Vittoria. The vineyards are a mix of red sand & clay/limestone at approximately 900 feet above sea level. The production methods are revolutionary. For example, most of the fermentations take place in clay pots (amphorae) buried in the ground! All farming is organic and the wines are bottled with minimal sulphur, unfined & unfiltered.

“Black olive, mature blackberry, tilled soil and a hint of game are some of the aromas you’ll find on this earthy, alluring wine. The fresh, savory palate offers crushed cherry, blackberry, ground pepper, clove anise and a hint of leather alongside fresh acidity and velvety tannins.” 92 WE

White – Planeta Etna Bianco 2015

* Grapes: 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Carricante

* Sustainably farmed

* Fermented & aged in a mix of stainless steel & wood

Planeta was at the forefront of Sicily’s fine wine revolution in the 1980s. Etna Bianco is their expression of Carricante – Sicily’s most important & age worthy indigenous white grape. It originates in the black sand soils of Mount Etna, from a single vineyard at 2000 feet above sea level. We find white peach, pear, white flowers, almond skin & flinty minerality with a luscious mid-palette & a crisp finish.

Cellar Club – December 2016

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Celebration Wines!

Tis the season everyone! It’s that time of year where we act on our good conscience and give back to those in need. December I am ALL about giving you what you need; bubbles and red blends! In both clubs you will find Daniel Brunier, a standout Southern Rhone producer whose old vine Grenache-heavy blends will pair great with any holiday meal. For all those California red blend lovers I give you a sexy and smooth wine known as The Pessimist from Dauo Vineyards and finally, for my sparkling lovers, I gift you the Champagne Lallier and Patrick Piuze from Chablis. Happy Holidays!!

Daniel Brunier Telegramme CdP

One cannot think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most celebrated cru of the southern Rhône, without thinking of the Brunier family. The Brunier family is legendary in its own right, having been rooted to the enigmatic plateau known as La Crau for over one hundred years. The wines of this domain evoke the concept of terroir in its purest form: they reflect their dramatic climate, the rough terrain that defines the soil, their full sun exposure at a higher altitude, the typicity of the varietals with an emphasis on Grenache, and of course, the influence of their caretakers, the Brunier family. The Telegramme is the Chateauneuf du Pape blend of mostly Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from an average rootstock age of 40 years adding to the depth of this blend.

Lallier Grand Reserve

The Lallier family had been in Ay for five generations. Since Monsieur Lallier passed it along to his longtime winemaker Monsieur Tribaut they have expanded only slightly to 350,000 bottle production which is still miniscule compared to Veuve Cliquot at 10 million. In order to produce Champagnes of exceptional quality, Lallier only vinifies the highest quality grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This Burgundy-inspired style shows once again that the quality of its champagnes is central to LALLIER’s values. Wines are bottled after blending in Spring and then have at least 36 months to rest in their cellars where they reach full maturity before consumption…NOW! I am excited for you to try this sparkling bursting with red fruits, fine mousse, and an elegant finish.

Cellar Club – November 2016

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Holiday Wines

Welcome to November Wine of Month!  We’ve been searching the last couple of months for the perfect complements to the Holiday season – suitable for the table and for simply enjoying a glass.  We’ve found a delicious, serious take on the Red Blend (from one of the best wineries in the U.S., Ridge) and a surprising White Blend from a region you wouldn’t normally expect (Rhone grapes from California).  Don’t worry about pairing these wines with specific dishes.  Just pop the cork and let the celebration begin!

Elyse L’Ingénue Naggiar Vineyard White Blend 2014

Elyse Winery was born in Napa Valley during the late 1980s as the brainchild of husband and wife team Ray and Nancy Coursen.  They decided to grow and source only the finest grapes that were grown in an environmentally responsible fashion.

L’Ingénue (naïve girl) is composed of four white grape varieties (52{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Roussanne, 32{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Marsanne, 11{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viognier, 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache Blanc) that originate in the France’s Rhone Valley but are ideally suited the terroir of the Sierra Foothills. The 2014 is bursting with aromas of citrus, peach, nectarine and orange blossom honey. We also find flavors of ripe peach, marzipan, Key lime and pineapple with an unctuous mouthfeel balanced by crisp acidity. This is a full-bodied white even a die-hard red wine drinker will enjoy!  Only 400 cases produced.



Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel Blend 2014

Ridge is the legendary Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon producer based in the Santa Cruz Mountains (south of San Francisco) but with vineyards holdings in Sonoma, Napa, and Alexander Valley.  Geyserville is a single vineyard traditional field blend (from deep gravelly loam soils mixed with river rock) that is primarily Zinfandel but includes Carignan, Petit Sirah, and Mourvedre.  Some of the vines here are 130 years old!  Ridge always works naturally: wild yeasts for fermentations, organic farming, hand-harvesting, minimal sulfuring, gentle fining and filtration.  Robert Parker, wine critic par excellence, is a huge fan, “the 2014 Geyserville is a big-time winner in 2014, with copious quantities of juicy blackberry and black cherry fruit, some wood spice and loamy soil undertones. Full-bodied, fleshy and seductive, the wine is clean, pure, textured, and offers sensational drinking now and over the next 7-8 years.”


Cellar Club – October 2016

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SpOoOoky Surprise in the Glass


Manni Nössing Grüner Veltliner, Italy

The winemaking region of Alto-Adige is like a little Germany in northeast Italy. Most signs are in German and you’re more likely to see sauerkraut on a menu than tomatoes and basil. Here, Manni Nössing’s vineyards benefit from the steep mountain climate, making stunning Grüner Veltliner that perfectly represents its terroir. After being vinified in stainless steel tanks, the grapes stay eight months on the lees for added richness and texture. The result is this complex wine that balances body with lean Alpine minerality.

Red Hook Winery Twenty One: Twenty Four, New York

When you think of New York you might first consider what the Big Apple has to offer; great restaurants, shopping, museums etc, but you may not find yourself thinking of it as an up-and-coming wine growing region. Red Hook Winery was established in 2008 and aims at showing off New York state viticulture. He is able to do so with his team of winemakers out of California, Abe Schoener and Robert Foley.  Splitting each lot of grapes in half for each wine maker to experiment, they continue to discover what New York means in liquid form, letting the juice tell the story. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the North Fork of Long Island is full of cracked pepper, raspberry, and clove aromas with a brambly fruit palate and long finish.

Cellar Club – September 2016

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Southern France!

MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC BLANC (IGP St Guilhem-le-Désert – Cité d’Aniane)

  • 27{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Petit Manseng , 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viognier, 16{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chenin Blanc, 15{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chardonnay, 17{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Blend of: Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Petit Courbu, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat Petit Grain, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Gros Manseng, Semillon, Neherleschol, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Sercial de Madère (Portugal), Khondorni, Tchilar (Arménie), Albarino (Espagne), Falanghina, Fiano, Grechetto
  • Organic farming
  • Hand harvested
  • Fermented then rested for 6 months in stainless steel

For many, this estate needs no introduction. Often referred to as the Grand Cru of the Midi (South of France), the Mas de Daumas Gassac top-tier wines have reached international cult status. Located in the majestic Gassac Valley, the estate benefits from the cool microclimate derived from the Gassac River, several natural springs (from which the Guibert family drinks), and the influence of the nearby mountains. The soil that dominates the valley is a rare and still unexplained red, powder-fine glacial soil, which is strikingly similar to that found in the prime areas of Burgundy. This combination of characteristics is quite unique in Southern France.   They were the very first estate in the Languedoc to adopt full organic farming and can honestly say that the Gassac estate has never seen any chemicals!  This a very aromatic, lush white blend that is delicious to drink now by itself or with richer chicken dishes and a multitude of cheeses.  Try it with our Cambozola!


LES VIGNES OUBLIÉES ROUGE (Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac)

  • 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Syrah, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Carignan
  • Organic farming
  • Aged 12 months in a mix of demi-muidsand barriques, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new
  • Hand harvested
  • Indigenous yeast fermentation


Les Vignes Oubliées is hard to categorize: though the quality and quantity produced suggest an exacting family estate, it is in fact a sort of boutique cooperative—a self-proclaimed “collective of small farmers.” Clustered around the tiny village of Saint Privat, less than an hour northwest of Montpellier, the terraced vineyards sit at 350 meters altitude, placing them among the region’s highest. Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Granier works closely year-round with the four vignerons who entrust their fruit to him, ensuring that both sides maintain their stringent standards.

Having grown up in a family of vignerons, Jean-Baptiste was exposed to wine early on and quickly picked up his father and grandfather’s passion for their profession. They stressed to him the importance of listening to Nature, and the young boy aspired to have his own estate one day where he would use only the most natural, hands-off methods in the vineyards and winery.  As part of his viticulture-enology degree, Granier got an internship with Olivier Jullien, who was already well known as a staunch defender of natural methods and a pinnacle of winemaking in the Languedoc. An idea took root, and they easily convinced the vignerons to leave the cooperative that had been buying the fruit. After confirming their impressions with trial cuvées over two vintages, Jean-Baptiste and Olivier officially established Les Vignes Oubliées with the 2009 vintage. By 2011 the new project was well off the ground, and Jullien retired from the project to let Granier hold the reins alone.

The high altitude of the Larzac plateau combines with a schist and sandstone soil to give unusually fresh, delicate wines with silky tannins that also have the garrigue aromas and great generosity that are characteristic of the Languedoc.  Jeb Dunnuck, southern France expert at the Wine Advocate, gives you a great snapshot of this gem, “has terrific purity in its black and blue styled fruits, licorice and assorted herb and earthy aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, with solid mid-palate depth and a seamless texture.”  Fantastic with heartier pasta dishes and all manner of red meats.