Viña Sastre 2019 is an outstanding red wine from Spain's prestigious Ribera del
It's entirely Tempranillo from 20 to 65 year old vines.
Matured in French and American oak cooperage, the wood dovetails beautifully
with the dark, plummy fruit of the Tempranillo.
Gaba do Xil is a single-vineyard dry white from Spain's Valdeorras in
It's the first bottling ever from the O Barreiro parcel and the main grape
is Godello, but we understand there are tiny percentages of Doña Blanca and
Treixadura in this. No oak. No malolactic. No lees-stirring.
You'll find some stony, "salty" notes to this...a nice alternative to
a Sancerre or Chablis, for example.
You'll have a tough time finding a better value in top-notch dry Riesling than
this delightful wine from Schloss Vollrads.
It's call Volratz...hints of petrol and Riesling fruit.
And it's dry!
From Switzerland we have a famous red wine that's a classic blend of Pinot
Noir (mostly) with a touch of Gamay.
In France's Burgundy region you'll find, occasionally, a Pinot Noir/Gamay blend
where it's called "Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains."
This Swiss red is a nice, lighter-bodied red.
Having purchased some "celebrity" wines to evaluate we can't say
we've been terribly impressed, but this Napa Cabernet bearing the name of former
NBA basketball star Yao Ming is actually quite good.
And having been in Napa recently and shocked by the $250-$500 price tags, this
is a solid bottling at $89.99.
A mere 1200 bottles of this delightfully complex Champagne were made by a couple
of young French enologists.
It's from the grand cru village of Verzenay and it's bone dry and mildly toasty.
We are periodically asked for "Orange" wines and we have but a
These are white wines which have been fermented with the grape skins, vinified
similarly to red wine.
These are often made by naturalista vintners and consumers are expected
to overlook sloppy, amateur winemaking under the guise these are somehow more
wholesome than conventionally-made wines.
Swan's Grenache Blanc had a few weeks on the skins, imparting a bit of
astringency. Minimal cellar treatments, so the wine can be a bit cloudy if
you don't decant it off its sediment.
A favorite French dry white from the Alps has returned to the shop.
It's Quénard's 2021 Chignin...well, it seems every winery in the village of
Chignin is named Quénard!
Jean-François Quénard makes this entirely of the Jacquère grape. If you
like stony, minerally, non-oaked dry whites, pick up a bottle of this.
After a long absence, there's a new vintage of Greywacke's exceptional
Sauvignon Blanc called "Wild Sauvignon."
This is essentially a winemaker's "reserve" wine...wild yeast
fermentation, a bit of a malolactic fermentation and aging in seasoned oak
barrels on the lees sediment yield a wine of elevated quality. It's not
the citrusy, fruit bomb one typically finds in Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand,
as it tips its chapeau to vignerons in France's Burgundy.
Guigal's La Doriane bottling of Condrieu is amazingly good...as usual!
If you want to "blow the doors" off at Thanksgiving, snag a bottle of
this peachy, toasty dry white.
The 2018 Penfolds BIN 389 is a killer.
It's usually about $70-$75 a bottle, but we've sale-tagged it for a short time
and you can pick this up for just $59.99.
People sometimes have described this as "Baby Grange," Penfolds'
famous benchmark Aussie red which goes for $600-$800+.
It's available for tasting presently in our tasting room...$6/pour
Showy, dark fruit and lavishly oaked...impressive!
Winemaker Adam Tolmach routinely makes impressive California wines which tip
their chapeaux to Old World Burgundies and Rhônes.
The 2019 Syrah comes from the Sebastiano vineyard...total production tallied to
around 200 cases.
It's available for tasting presently, too, by the way.
This Robledo Sonoma Coast Chardonnay caught us by surprise this past week!
What a delight...creamy, toasty, dry Chardonnay that aced out other, far more
Ijalba 2021 Rioja...it's a young, chillable red on par with good Beaujolais
or Dolcetto wines.
Pure Tempranillo and it does not seem to have spent time in oak, so the dark
berry fruit is front and center here.
2021 Carignane from really old vines in Contra Costa County...
The Birichino Boys routinely make interesting, soulful wines.
Medium-bodied and with a most intriguing earthy note and spicy tone...
$24.99 (last bottles)
The dollar has gained strength in Europe but it remains weak in California's
But we found a rather nice, mildly oaked Chardonnay from Jon Pey's Textbook
You can't even buy a small tasting flight at many Napa wineries for
Some half-bottles of a terrific Dry Creek Zinfandel made the cut this week.
2016 vintage from Mauritson...their famed "Rockpile" vineyard.
Just $22.99 per 375ml bottle.
Beautiful spice and nicely complex bouquet thanks to its bottle aging.
The new vintages of Vietti's Barbera d'Asti ($18.99) and Roero Arneis
($25.99) are recent arrivals.
Both are quite good...a smooth, berryish, dry red and a light, crisp, flavorful,
non-oaked white wine.
We have a precious few bottles of their single vineyard 2018 vintage Barolos,
But the 2018 "Castiglione" Barolo, a blend of vintages, is
Another shipment of Soalheiro's stellar Alvarinho landed and we have it open
for tasting currently.
Deliciously dry Alvarinho (Albariño is the Spanish version).
The Tamellini brothers make remarkably delicious Soave.
Most Soave is akin to water and you'll find Evian or Crystal Geyser have as much
character as the average bottle of Soave.
Tamellini is different.
100% Garganega...no Trebbiano.
Melon and peach notes dominate the nose and come through on the palate.
Best of all: $14.99!
"Merci André Jacquinet" is delightful, chillable red reminding us
a bit of the fruity Santa Magdalener wines of Italy's Alto Adige.
Those are based on the Schiava grape, while this Oregon wine is made primarily
of Garanoir and Regent.
André Jacquinet was a fellow who created the Garanoir variety by crossing the
red grape Gamay with a white variety called Reichensteiner.
The idea was to create a disease-resistant grapevine which would ripen early in
The resulting wine is berryish but in its own unique way...the character isn't
like Pinot Noir, nor is it a ringer for Gamay.
Medium+ in body.
Only 97 cases were produced.
The 2018 Chianti Classico Riserva from La Vigna di San Martino ad Argiano is
It's more "noble" than most Chianti, being worthy of a grilled steak
as it's almost too good to be a "spaghetti red."
The vineyard is tiny and is situated in the northwest part of the Chianti
Sale priced at $39.99.
From Sicily we have the 2019 Cerasuolo di Vittoria from the famous Planeta
This is a berryish red blend featuring 60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Frappato which
is ideal served at cool cellar temp with a summer barbecue...chicken, pork, lamb
or beef pair handsomely with this.
Sale price is $24.99.
Damn, this is a lovely bottle of wine!
It's from a small patch of Zinfandel grown in Oakville (where most Zin has been
replaced with Cabernet $auvignon).
Sale price is $26.99. Gorgeous berry fruit (not jammy or raisiny!) and spice with a nice touch of
The 2019 is delicious, a great follow-up to the impressive 2018.
The Pinot Blanc grape is typically over-looked as Chardonnay and Sauvignon
Blanc dominate the local wine market.
The French, in Alsace, view this variety as a good one and we used to see a
barrel-fermented version from Monterey's Chalone Vineyards.
A number of wineries in Oregon dabble with Pinot Blanc and this 2021 bottling
from Elk Cove is exceptional.
Lots of apple and pear-like notes with a faint touch of citrus and melon.
It's a non-oaked, dry white.
$25 at the winery...but we offer it for $19.99.
The price of a bottle of Napa Cabernet is in the stratosphere these days.
Some wine marketing folks are out of their minds,
demanding to control the pricing of their extravagant bottles.
One vintner sent out a note saying their wine is to be sold for $175/bottle and
they did not want retailers to "discount" it down to $174.99!
This Peirson Meyer Cabernet goes for "only" $99.99 and we find it to
be on par with those $175-$300 bottles.
The grapes are from a 15 year old vineyard in Calistoga...lots of blackcurrant
fruit and a nice balance of cedary tones from its maturation in French
oak. Very fine!
From Southwest France's Bergerac region, we brought in a delightful
"Bordeaux Blend" featuring Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
They claim to keep the use of sulfur to a minimum.
We found the Cabernet Franc dominates the blend despite accounting for but a
quarter of the wine.
If you enjoy Loire Valley reds from, say, Chinon, this is worth a try.
We visited a tiny, garage winery in Paso Robles in the late 1970s and we
remember vividly the Pinot Noir from this fledgling winery called HMR, Hoffman
Stanley Hoffman started the place, vinifying his first commercial vintage, we
think, in 1975 (and that's the amazing Pinot Noir we tasted).
The Hoffman property was purchased by the neighbors Don & Elizabeth Steenwyk
who began with walnut and almond orchards.
They created the Adelaida brand in 1981.
The 2020 Chardonnay is remarkable, as it tips its cap to Burgundy and northern
California wines with its elegance and style.
Mildly toasty thanks to 9 months aging on the spent yeast (with no stirring),
this is an outstanding wine!
Sale priced at $39.99
Union Sacré is a small winemaking company in California's Central
Coast. The winemaker is French and his partner is American.
They say they're big fans of the wines from France's Alsace.
Giving their Pinot Gris a bit of skin-contact before the fermentation created
that lovely pinkish tone to the wine which checks in with a mere 12.1%
alcohol...the wine is dry and snappy with some green apple notes and a hint of a
Sale price for the Pinot Gris is $17.99.
They also have a dark, berryish Syrah from Edna Valley fruit...perhaps this will
develop a layer or two of complexity with bottle aging, but presently this is a
satisfying red for burgers or ribs. We would not mistake this for a
complex Northern Rhône Syrah but the wine easily merits its $16.99 sale price.
2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir from the Ancient Peaks folks in southern San Luis
Dry, of course.
Birdhorse is a small winemaking enterprise in Sonoma, the work of two young
We tasted a charming, energetic red wine made of the Cinsault grape...sourced
from a vineyard in Camino, California in the Sierra Foothills.
Called "Heliotropes," this is a medium-bodied red with fragrances
leaning towards pomegranate, cherry and rhubarb.
Best served lightly chilled.
The Mondeuse grape in France's Savoie region produces a delightful dry red
We've long enjoyed the wine of the Angelot brothers as they make a dark-hued red
wine teeming with berry-like fruit notes.
No oak...it's effusively berryish along the lines of Beaujolais.
And it's well-priced...$14.99.
Best served at cool cellar temp.
We've been looking for good, well-priced Chardonnay as one of our favorite
sources did not produce a wine with the 2020 vintage due to wildfires.
The 2018 Buehler is a solid choice, though...Russian River Valley fruit.
Lightly oaked and it undergoes a malolactic fermentation, contributing a faintly
creamy note to pair with the appley Chardonnay fruit.
Sale priced at $14.99.
The Cheverny appellation has long been a budget-priced alternative to
It's located about 65 miles west of Sancerre and a short drive south of Blois
and Chambord, famous châteaux along the Loire river.
Salvard makes delicious, dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from their mature vineyards
(20+ years of age).
They blend in a bit of Chardonnay to give the wine a bit more body and texture
than if it was solely Sauvignon.
$19.99 for this just-arrived 2021 vintage.
One of our favorite French reds from the Loire Valley just landed...it's from
the Château du Hureau in the Saumur-Champigny appellation.
Beautiful red fruit notes with its textbook smoky element, this is a gentle,
$19.99 makes it a bargain!
We have a small selection of Japanese Sake and this IMA bottling caught our
attention as it's crisper and slightly more tart than most Sake.
In fact, they say it's an ideal partner for oysters and other delectable
Weimax has maybe a dozen selections from Switzerland and this dry white from
the Leyvraz winery is a favorite.
Made from the Chasselas grape, the St. Saphorin appellation in the Vaud area
overlooking Lake Geneva.
Some people only enjoy this with a fondue evening, but it's worthy of the dinner
table on other occasions, too.
No oak. Dry...mildly stony.
From Italy's Alto Adige comes an exceptional limited bottling of Sauvignon
Clones of Sauvignon were imported from France and the wine strikes a balance
between Bordeaux and Loire Valley whites, leaning more towards Bordeaux as half
of the wine was vinified in barrique and puncheon.
Notes of sage, citrus and herbs...sale priced at $42.99
Piazzano is made by our friend Rolando Bettarini in Italy's Tuscany region.
The vineyards are about 15 miles west of Florence and about 6 miles south of
Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo.
It's a youthful, easy-drinkin' Sangiovese (85%) blended with other local Tuscan
Finca Martelo is a small vineyard in Spain's Rioja region.
It's a Tempranillo with 5% Mazuelo that's lavishly oaked.
The vineyard is owned by La Rioja Alta, a winery that routinely makes "old
We were surprised to learn this was matured entirely in French oak, as it has a
woodsy character much like their American Oak-aged reds.
Very showy. It's available for sampling in our Tasting Room.
The Txueka family has been making this Basque white wine for several decades
and I think we've carried it since the 1990s.
Theirs is typically 90% Hondarrabi Zuri with 10% of the red grape, Hondarrabi
Beltza and the alcohol level is fairly modest with high acidity and maybe even a
very faint touch of spritz.
It's a delightful wine as an aperitif and with lighter fare.
We brought a bottle to lunch at the Basque Cultural Center recently and the wine
was a perfect prelude to a well-aged red wine from Spain's Rioja region.
The Cusumano family makes our current favorite rendition of the Carricante
grape in the volcanic soils of Sicily's Mount Etna.
If you enjoy non-oaked, crisp dry whites with a measure of minerality, give this
Portugal's Douro Valley meets Bordeaux!
This is a dark, robust red which can be paired with Cabernet Cuisine.
Specially Priced at $24.99.
We're big fans of Riesling and you'll find some wonderful examples from the
West Coast, Australia, Italy, Austria and, of course, Germany in the shop.
The Karp Schreiber wines come from Germany's Mosel region and this 2018
Brauneberger Juffer is mildly sweet, yet beautifully balanced thanks to amply
Hard to beat at just $17.99.
Winemaker Nils Venge has usually been recognized for his work with Cabernet
and Zinfandel, so we were (pleasantly) surprised to taste this 2021 Napa Valley
Chardonnay and find it to be quite good AND well-priced. Ripe pear-like
fruit and nice toasty oak with creamy overtones.
$29.99 on sale!
It's not unusual for Napa and Sonoma winemakers to incorporate some fruit from nearby
Lake County into their wines.
The quality of the grapes can be very good and the fruit tends to cost less.
Here's a Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon from perhaps the top site in the Red
Hills sub-region of Lake County, a graceful and elegant wine which we've
described as "North of Napa Geographically and South of Napa in terms of
$33.99 on sale ($38 at the winery).
The Birichino Malvasia is intensely fragrant, as
always...jasmine, lemongrass, orange blossoms, etc.
While it smells "sweet," the wine is actually dry and pairs remarkably
well with Asian-styled dishes.
Italy's Barbera can be light or full-bodied. It can be fruit-driven or
Giornata is a California winery whose owners are enchanted by Italy and their
Barbera gives good Piemontese wines a run for the money.
It's berryish, not oaky and has the snappy acidity that pairs handsomely with
tomato-sauced pastas, sausage pizza or even some seafood dishes.
Sale priced at $22.99.
We tasted the new vintage of the Lambert family's Chinon.
Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.
Fairly dark in color and nicely berryish, as they leave the skins to macerate
with the juice for nearly two weeks.
We've tasted some good bottles from the Courbet estate in France's mountainous
They're maybe an hour, by car, from Burgundy, so it should not be surprising
this wine shares many elements of expensive wines from its western neighbors.
Their 2018 "Les Rondos" is a small parcel of slightly more than an
acre and it's a Chardonnay vinified in small French oak.
You'll find a mildly toasty element and some hazelnut character on the
nose. There is just a tiny note of oxidation along the lines of a fresh
Fino Sherry from Spain on the finish.
Burgundian winemakers typically ask serious money for a similar quality wine.
From Italy's Valtellina region in Lombardia we have a stellar white blend which
includes Incrocio Manzoni and Nebbiolo that's vinified as a white wine.
The backbone of this are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Our monthly tasting group this past week surveyed 2017 and 2018 Chianti
The first place wine was $45 and blended with Cabernet Sauvignon (we ranked it
6th out of 8, but these guys love Napa Cabernet and Bordeaux, so it is
understandable they preferred that particular wine).
Finishing a mere one point behind the top wine was this 2018 Paneretta. It
is 85% Sangiovese and the rest is Canaiolo and Colorino, typical Tuscan
varieties. The 2019 is equally satisfying...cherryish, snappy red.
We brought some in as we're sale-tagging it for $21.99 and it's a good
introduction to Tuscan Sangiovese.
Two weeks ago we splurged on a bottle of the 2007 Terlan Pinot Bianco.
They call it "Rarity," as the wine is matured on the spent yeast for
about ten years in stainless steel after its year, or so, in large wooden
vats. The wine retails for close to $200 a bottle and it was very good.
A few days later we opened a few bottles of Italian whites, including this
"Terlaner" from the Terlan winery. It's predominantly Pinot
Bianco with a bit of Chardonnay and a drop of Sauvignon Blanc. It was the
best white of that tasting. The apple and pear fruit of the Pinot Bianco
takes center stage...no oak coming through here.
Damned good and it stood up to our Artichoke Risotto, too.
OPEN FOR TASTING PRESENTLY