Winery of the Month
November 30 – January 3
The Ghosts of Holidays Past have suggested wine choices to match your celebration fare, feast and banquet table, but with a nod toward good value. This time around, the Ghost of Holidays Present would gladly like to recommend their purely hedonistic preferences for you wine novices and passionate aficionados alike – some unique, hard-to-find wines that your favorite boss, co-worker or well deserving spouse would be thrilled to see underneath the tree or stuffed in their stocking. And as an added incentive that even Scrooge would appreciate, the Ghosts of Holidays Yet to Be are offering a special Elves discount to your purchases.
Joseph Perrier Cuvee Josephine
Reg $129.99 Holiday Special $99.99
Most Champagne houses have their signature Prestige Cuvée , Moët has Dom Perignon, Roederer has Cristal, all reflect the uniqueness of the house style, and most are noteworthy. A personal favorite, for many reasons, is Cuvée Joséphine by Joseph Perrier. The winery is minuscule by industry standards, using a true hands-on approach. The Cellar Master is the 3rd generation at Joseph Perrier and he continues in his forefathers’ tradition of excellence. Harvested exclusively from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards rated 95% and higher, the blend is 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. The wine rests on its secondary lees and is only disgorged on demand, adding to the complexity and richness unlike most that are done at once. The 2004 wine is truly rich and creamy, with a complexity bestowed on wines far more costly. The aromas are intriguing with butter, almonds, nectarine, and delicate spice, with flavors that echo. Creamy yet energetic with baked tart, citrus, both fresh and dried fruits and a chalky mineral frame that seamlessly wraps the whole affair. This is a fantastic bottle of bubbly that is as delicious as it is pretty, and far more affordable than its peers. Only 1000 cases produced.
92 Points Wine Spectator.
Gallo Estate Russian River Chardonnay 2014
Reg $44.99 Holiday Special $36.99
This lush and complex Chardonnay showcases layered aromas of white peach, nectarine, tangerine zest and honeydew melon, followed by rich, warm notes of crème brulée and chai. Though the palate is round and silky, a fluid acidity provides balance and length, while adding definition to flavors of stone fruit, citrus blossom, and melon
Olivier LeFlaive Chassagne Montrachet 2013
Reg $69.99 Holiday Special $59.99
California Chardonnay to me has become rather innocuous over the years, primarily because they seem to fit the same mold, rich, juicy, off-dry and often oaky. White Burgundy, on the other hand, continually delivers intriguing wines that are delicious and inspirational. Olivier Leflaive is a well-established domain with roots in Beaune dating back to the early 1700’s. The Chassagne Montrachet, which is an assemblage of world class Chardonnay vineyards, which reflect the uniqueness of the terroir. As a blend of many parcels, each component brings something to the table, and as a sum of its parts is a deliciously vibrant yet complex bottle of Chardonnay. High-toned and slightly angular, its mineral is evident, but the generous apple, pear, pineapple fruit core is accented by lemon zest, oyster shell and hints of chalk. This is classic Burgundian Chardonnay that will truly change your palate.
90 points Wine Spectator
Frank Family Carneros Pinot Noir 2013
Reg $35.99 Holiday Special $29.99
For you old timers (like me), Frank Family Vineyards was originally the Kornell Champagne Cellars and prior to that, the site of the historic 1884 Larkmead Winery. Rich Frank, a long-time Disney executive, couldn’t find the time to get away for long vacations. Soon he started coming to Napa on the weekends, realizing it was only a short plane flight away from Los Angeles. In 1990, he purchased a home in the eastern hills of Napa in Rutherford. It was just a matter of time before his passion for wine segued directly into owning his own winery. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon may be the obvious stars, but Frank Family also produces this wonderful Pinot Noir. A bright ruby color gives way to aromas of black cherries, raspberry and spice. As the wine opens, floral notes reminiscent of hibiscus flower in the glass. The palate is fleshy, loaded with fresh berry flavors and lush savory notes that lead to roasted chestnuts and toffee flavors. The tannins are refined and provide elegance and structure. A spectacular match with most holiday cuisine, especially roasted fowl and ham based dishes, this divine red will make a great gift for someone who appreciates fine wine.
90 points Wine Spectator
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Maestro Proprietary Red Blend
Reg $54.99 Holiday Special $46.99
This 50th Anniversary Red Blend was created to honor Robert Mondavi – the Maestro, of course – and to celebrate his winery’s 50th anniversary, or “harvest” if you will. Napa Valley would not be what it is today without this gentleman’s passion and dedication to his craft. Maestro is a Bordeaux-styled blend, comprised of 59% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. After vinification, the wine was gently pressed into 75% French oak barrels where it spent 21 months before bottling and release. Merlot makes its presence known with a cacophony of aromas, flavors and textures in this deeply colored Bordeaux blend. The remaining varietals contribute to the harmonious balance of dark black fruit, dark plum, spicy cardamom, nutmeg, and dried herb flavors. The finish is mouth-filling with fine tannins and closes with luxuriously, long notes of rich dark berries and spice.
Slo Down Wines Love Hammer Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $64.99 Holiday Special $59.99
A couple of young college students started a makeshift wine company, off the record of course, as a result of a trip to some vineyards with the university’s wine club. As under aged participants, they allegedly found it easier to make wine than get a fake id. And blossoming from their creative juices, so to speak, and their willingness to share their creations, they got pretty good at it. Over the years, they developed a following which of course grew to a unique and rather loose wine company. SLO Down Wines is the result of their efforts and their wines are not just unique, but tasty. Their flagship wine is a Zinfandel/Syrah blend called Sexual Chocolate (there could be a theme here) which quickly gained popularity and their newest is a Napa Valley Cabernet named, Love Hammer. Assuredly the titles reflect alternative rock bands, but still the images that they conjure… The Love Hammer Cabernet was sourced from Atlas Peak (that Stagecoach Vineyard made famous) and is at once ripe and fleshy, plush yet firm with dark berries, chocolate covered cherries, toasted nuts and a lingering spiced, slightly tart finish. Full bore and youthful, but packed with flavor. Less than 300 cases produced.
Villa Creek Garnacha 2013
Reg $49.99 Holiday Special $42.99
Cris and JoAnn Cherry moved to Paso Robles in 1996 to open a restaurant, partake in the burgeoning wine scene and raise their children in a true “country” setting. In 2001 they purchased their first grapes to make wine for their restaurant. And so began Villa Creek Cellars, which they farm as both a biodynamic and organic vineyard. The 2013 Garnacha – or Grenache for you Francophiles – is equal parts Denner Vineyard and Luna Matta Vineyard Grenache. This amazingly succulent wine boasts aromas of black cherries, anise and a hint of Bay leaf – it segues to a bold, juicy palate that shows beautiful purity and precision. Chocolate, violets and caramelized bacon notes – Chateauneuf du Pape aficionados take note! – are followed by white pepper spice that lingers. Match with your heartier holiday fare where a big, bold red is needed. Or enjoy on its own as it is hedonistically delicious.
92-94 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Betz Family Clos de Betz Proprietary Red
Reg $59.99 Holiday Special $52.99
Washington State is a hotbed of fantastic vineyards and a burgeoning wine industry. Overshadowed by our own rather prominent homegrown heroes, our friends to the north have come out swinging. Led by stalwarts such as Leonetti, Andrew Will and Quilceda Creek, the gloves are off and the proof is in the pudding. The Betz Family winery has been making wines since 1997 with Bob Betz MW at the helm following a stint as VP of Winemaking Research at Chateau Ste Michelle. The following years brought more and better wines, with impressive accolades from top critics and writers. Named Winemaker of the Year, Bob continued to impress with Wine of the Year and highly rated wines that made the Top Ten in various periodicals. Clos de Betz is a Merlot dominant Bordeaux style blend, it is deeply saturated, packed with pure black fruits, plums, spice, fleeting herbs, some leather, game notes and a persistent powerful yet harmonious finish. Only gets better with air.
The 2012 & 2013 vintages both received 93-95 Point Scores by Robert Parker. Vintage may vary by location.
Clos des Papes Chateauneuf de Pape 2012
Reg $139.99 Holiday Special $119.99
Let’s say this right out the gate – Chateauneuf de Pape is the greatest red wine on the planet. Of course, that’s my opinion and a matter of individual taste – There are those who will choose Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscan or Piedmont, Rioja, Barossa or Napa valley as their favorite red wine. There is just something special about a wine that can use up to 14 different varietals and somehow make it one of the most luxurious, complex, dominating wines that one could have the pleasure to quaff. And in those rarefied moments of placing wine to palate, you can actually hear the angels singing (figuratively speaking). Here is my choice for either a gift or for your table and, yes, prepare yourself for the angel’s choir to ramp it up a notch. This Rhone beauty, a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre and 15% Syrah is both silky and powerful, boasting exotic black and blue fruit compote on the nose. A little extra time in the glass offers up a smoky note balanced by dark berry preserves, sweet raspberry liqueur and lavender flavors with a touch of white pepper. It segues to a rich and energetic finish that reveals excellent nuances of anise and spice cake with zesty minerality. This stunning wine will enliven any holiday feast and will certainly endear you to whomever receives it as a gift.
97 points Wine Spectator and 96 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Emilio Lustau Emilin Moscatel Sherry
Reg $29.99 Holiday Special $24.99
What is a Holiday gathering without the pleasure of capping the meal with a delectable dessert wine. Most folks shy away from sweet wines as they can be cloying and clumsy when served alone, but with the right dish, they really shine. Moscatel isn’t widely in production much anymore, but a really solid sherry from Moscatel is a force to be reckoned with. The wine shows tremendous richness and depth, it is no shrinking violet, but it isn’t an overly sweet beast that just overpowers either. It serves up a clear Muscat profile augmented by dried fig, fruitcake, baking spices, rum soaked raisins, dried fruits of apricot and plum. Serve with nut and pumpkin pies, chocolate, cheesecake and aged cheeses. Don’t overlook this important part of your festivities.