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SAY TODAY'S SECRET WORDS: "IVANA BORGOGNO" and we'll pour you a taste of VIRNA 2013 BAROLO................


UPDATED AS OF October 15,  2019

VIRNA 2013 BAROLO  Sale Price $36.99  $3.70/taste
Virna is a smallish cellar on the low road to Barolo, adjacent to the winery of Luciano Sandrone.

The family name is Borgogno, but there are already two other Borgogno wineries in Barolo, so rather than adding
to the confusion, the winery is named after winemaker Virna Borgogno.

Virna and her sister Ivana run this little enterprise and they've been making good wines for a number of
years.  We recall the wonderful 2004 vintage by Virna and we found a slight problem with the 2005 and mentioned
it.  Virna sent samples to a lab to see if our assessment was correct.
It was.
And ever since, they insist on showing us the latest vintages.
We are happy to report these have been quite good.

Even in the difficult 2014 vintage, Virna made terrific wines.

Today we're pouring the 2013...it's from two sites in Novello and one vineyard in Monforte.

Thanks to a good little importer, the wine is well-priced.

 

 

 

 

PARADIGM 2015 Napa CABERNET $8/taste

Heidi Peterson makes classic, old-school wines...no grape concentrate and
she doesn't leave residual sugar in her Cabernets.

She works for a number of wineries and her Cabernets at Paradigm have
been quite good.  The 2015 is maybe a tad softer than previous vintages.

Very fine for immediate drinking and it'll cellar handsomely.





 

 

 


 

 

 

 

MONT-REDON 2015 CH┬TEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE  $4.80/taste


We included this in a recent blind-tasting of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines and it was our
top-ranked wine and well-liked by the group of tasters.

Mont-Redon is a larger estate in the southern Rh˘ne and yet they make a remarkably good, elegant
red.
Half the wine is matured in small, French oak, Burgundy-styled barrels and this adds a measure of
elegance to the wine.

Very stylish and it's well-priced, too.

 

 




 

 

 

 

ZD Napa CABERNET SAUVIGNON  $67.99  $6.80/taste
ZD is famous for its distinctive Chardonnay, but they make a really snazzy Napa Cabernet, too.

Lavishly oaked, dark fruit...very fine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEWSEY VALE 2012 "CONTOURS" RIESLING  $3.40/Taste
Pewsey Vale's special Riesling called "Contours" is one of the most enjoyable
Rieslings in the shop.

It's typically released when it's had some time in the bottle to develop, so if you like
those floral and petrol notes of nicely matured Riesling, don't miss this.

We paired two vintages with homemade Crab Cakes recently...we had a bit
of chili pepper spiciness in the crab mix and the wine was superb in this 
context.

One of our guests, a prominent New Zealand winemaker, was absolutely 
delighted to see this on our menu that evening, saying it's her all-time
favorite Riesling.

This is dry and crisp, too, by the way.


 

 

 

 

SADDLEBACK CELLARS Napa "Old Vines" ZINFANDEL $4/taste
Our old pal Nils Venge (we first met him in the mid-1970s when he was the first winemaker at the brand new 
"Villa Mount Eden" winery) has his Saddleback Cellars brand.  

The wines are always well-made but this one is special.

It's from an old parcel of Zinfandel in Calistoga.  There's a small percentage of
Petite Sirah in the blend, creating a beautiful red with the classic spice note
of Zinfandel.



 



 

 

 

 

ALTA MORA 2018 Etna Bianco  $3/Taste
Carricante is the grape...and it can make a remarkably good bottle of wine in the right hands.

Some of these are tight, lean and cellarworthy.

The Alta Mora is immediately showy...crisp, bone dry, mildly stony/minerally...you can sense
its volcanic "terroir" right from the start.

No oak.  
Doesn't need any.









 

SHAFER 2016 RED SHOULDER RANCH Carneros CHARDONNAY  $5/taste
The Shafer family have been making a spiffy Carneros Chardonnay for decades.

The wine is vinified in both barrel and stainless steel...it doesn't undergo
a secondary, malolactic fermentation and retains an element reminiscent
of tropical fruits with some toasty notes from the wood.

Most people regard Shafer as a top red wine specialist, but they do a
good job with this showy dry white.



 

 

MAYACAMAS 2014 Napa/Mount Veeder MERLOT $6/Taste
High up on Mount Veeder is where you'll find the Mayacamas Vineyards property.

They make old-time Napa wines.  Ages ago they were the producer of big, intense, bad ass wines.
These days the wines, by comparison to many, are quite elegant and refined, though nothing
has really changed.

Well, the prices have changed and the Cabernet Sauvignon goes for well north of $100 a bottle.

But you can have the same quality red with their well-priced Merlot.

It's nicely intense and concentrated...it's as full as many Napa Cabernets.



 

 

 

TREFETHEN 2016 Napa CABERNET SAUVIGNON $4.50/taste
Trefethen's vineyards are in the Oak Knoll district of Napa, a slightly cooler region.

 

This makes for a nicely elegant rendition of Cabernet, beautifully balanced.
















 

 


NAUTILUS ESTATE New Zealand SAUVIGNON BLANC   $1.80/taste
The Hill-Smith clan owns this terrific New Zealand estate.

They make a relatively low alcohol, crisp, tangy Sauvignon Blanc which
is really snappy and fresh...heck, it ought to be: it's fresh out of the
fermentation tank...this is a 2018 vintage!

This is a crisp, delicious cocktail white and it's dynamite
with seafood, dim sum and other Asian-styled dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KANZLER 2017 Sonoma  PINOT NOIR  $6.00/taste

We've had a couple of vintages of Pinot Noir from this Sonoma County winery.

They sell grapes to some neighbors and make a bit of wine for their own label.

This 2017 shows dark cherry notes and a touch of oak...beautifully balanced, too.

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOALHEIRO ALVARINHO  2.50/taste
The 2018 has just rolled in.

This is routinely one of our favorite, off-the-beaten-path dry white wines.
We brought a double magnum of the 2016 to dinner during the
San Francisco International Wine Competition and it was a hit with the
judges (from all over the world, too).

We brought this vintage recently to dinner with some friends at Dumpling Time in
San Francisco...thoroughly delicious!



Stony, nicely fruity with a hint of a spice note...


 

 

 






GREYWACKE 2016 Marlborough PINOT NOIR  $4/taste
In a recent blind-tasting of New Zealand Pinots, Kevin Judd's was my top pick.
It's beautifully intense with lovely dark cherry fruit and just a hint of sweet oak.
Very showy and easily comparable to top Sonoma Pinots.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAMIN 2017 "STOAN" White Wine Blend   $3.60/taste
A delicious blend based on Chardonnay, but it's the Sauvignon Blanc that
really sings here.  
The wine sees some large wooden tanks and it's beautifully aromatic.

Don't miss it...everyone who has tasted this has given it a 
"thumbs up."



 

 

FILIPPO GALLINO NEBBIOLO LANGHE  $1.30/taste

Old Filippo Gallino is still around and he monitors the work of his son, who's now the winemaker
at this venerable cellar in Piemonte's Canale.

They make classically-styled wines (no new oak) and are highly-regarded by their peers.

Thanks to an honest importer (and being friends of the family), we are able to sale-tag this $20 Nebbiolo
for just $12.99 a bottle.

It's a remarkable value.


 

 

 


CASTELFEDER GEW▄RZTRAMINER   $2.00/Taste
It's been said the Traminer grape may have originated in Italy's Alto Adige.
Heck, there's a town near Bolzano called "Tramin."

Castelfeder is a small, family estate and they seem to have
GewŘrztraminer dialed in.  We've usually touted the wine from Cantina Termeno (Tramin) 
as they make a top bottling from a single vineyard site.
This is less than half the price and of similar quality and 
intensity.


Castelfeder's is beautifully aromatic and it's dry...
We are certain most winemakers in France's Alsace, where GewŘrz is
a specialty, would be proud of this wine.




 

SUMMERS Napa Valley CHARBONO   $2.40/taste

We are big fans of this charming Napa Valley red made of the scarce Charbono grape.

It's gentle like a Pinot Noir but fairly full-bodied.

Lots of blackberry and blueberry fruit.

There are maybe a dozen California wineries producing Charbono and Summers, for us, is
the best and most sensibly-priced.


.



 

PETER DIPOLI 2015 SAUVIGNON BLANC "VOGLAR"  $2.80/taste

Peter Dipoli is a bit of a legend in his home region of Italy's Alto Adige.

He makes a Bordeaux blend and a Sauvignon Blanc called Voglar.

The wine is a bit intense and perhaps a tad rustic in today's squeaky clean world
of winemaking.  We're trying to say this is not for everyone,
but if you're on the same wavelength with the wine, you'll find it
to be quite satisfying.

Everyone in the Alto Adige knows Dipoli and they all speak
reverently about him and his wines.

We visited his cellar in March of 2018 and he shared some older bottles
with us...Voglar ages quite handsomely and each vintage is reflective
of the growing conditions of its birth year.


 

KIVELSTADT "FATHER'S WATCH" RED BLEND  $1.80/taste
This small winery in Sonoma produces some remarkable Rhone-styled reds.


We're fans of their Father's Watch bottling, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignane and Mourvedre.

It's medium-full bodied and there's an intriguing spice note here.

And the price is quite consumer-friendly...sale tagged at just $17.99.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BINZ 2016 MORIO MUSKAT  $1.30/Taste
This is a small production from our friends at the Binz winery in Germany.
It's intensely aromatic and fragrant, with a touch of sweetness but ample
acidity to balance.  
You'll find this wine only at our little shop here in Burlingame (or at the winery).


RAMEY 2016 Russian River Valley CHARDONNAY 3.50/taste
One of our favorite California Chardonnays, this is a wine made with
an astute awareness of French White Burgundies, but with a
decidedly California accent.  Very fine.

 

 




HART'S DESIRE 2017 VIOGNIER $1.80/taste
John Hart has a good vineyard source in Sonoma and 
makes a wonderfully peachy
dry white which captures the essence of Viognier.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 



 

CI┘ CI┘ 2018 PECORINO  $1.60
A fantastic example of the Pecorino grape...certainly this will appeal to you if
you're enchanted by crisp, non-oaked Sauvignon Blancs.

This is yet another great, flavorful alternative to the "water" that 
many commercial cellars bottle as "Pinot Grigio."



 

 

 

 

 





DAULNY 2018 SANCERRE $2.20/taste
Crisp, tangy, stony, minerally and bone dry...no oak.
Classic Sancerre at a rather modest price.

Ask Gerald to tell you the story of how he
was instrumental in creating the blend of wines
which comprise this special bottling that's sold solely
in California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


VASSE FELIX 2016 Margaret River  CHARDONNAY $4.20/taste
From the Margaret River region in Western Australia...
They make three Chardonnays...this is the middle tier bottling and it's dynamite.
Smoky, leesy and toasty...you have to taste it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DEHLINGER 2014 Russian River CHARDONNAY $4/taste
Full-throttle California Chardonnay by an old master...

Tom Dehlinger makes some stellar wines, but he's a graybeard now...no longer the
"new kid on the block," so his wines are sometimes overlooked.

But they remain amongst the best of California.

 

 

 

 

 

 











 

 

SWEET WINES OPEN TODAY:

QUINTA DO NOVAL 2011 VINTAGE PORT  $10/taste

The most recently-declared Vintage is offered today for tasting...quite showy now and it
will repay cellaring handsomely.


CARMES DE RIEUSSEC 2014 SAUTERNES   $3.50
A second wine from the famous ChÔteau Rieussec...delicious, mildly honeyed...

CASTA DIVA MOSCATEL  "Cosecha Miel"  $5.50/taste
Hugely famous in Portugal and around Europe, they're a mystery to most
wine consumers in the US.  Remarkable wine, though.


BARBEITO 5 Year Old BUAL MADEIRA  $2.40/taste
Not exactly dry but not precisely sweet...a nice 5 year old Madeira from a prestigious, traditional winery.

SMITH WOODHOUSE 2003 LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORTO $3/taste
Savvy wine buyers know this brand from the Symington Family (Graham's, Warres, Dow's)
for its killer LBV Port...If you have taste for hundred buck bottles of Vintage Port and are
on a budget, check out this delicious Porto!


LA MAGENDIA Juranšon $3.60/taste
From master winemaker Jean Bernard Larrieu comes this stellar sweet wine which is
balanced by laser-sharp acidity.  


FLORIO 2003 "TARGA" MARSALA   $4/taste
A special bottling of Vintage Marsala from the historic Florio winery in Marsala.


EXCINDRE MUSCAT DE MIREVAL  $2.20/taste
Terrific Muscat from the south of France.

DELAS MUSCAT DE BEAUMES DE VENISE  $2.60/taste
From the Rh˘ne Valley in France...this is a simple, aromatic and delicious Muscat.

ALSO:

CRUZ VIEJA OLOROSO SHERRY  $3.80
A well-aged, beautifully nutty dry Sherry...


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All bottles are sparged with Argon, an inert gas. 
This allows us to offer a wide variety of wines
(you won't find any place offering this number of interesting wines on a daily basis!). 



j0199296.jpg (8137 bytes)Wine Tasting Notes & Results


Upcoming tastings
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