The Grapevine Gazette

October 5 - November 1, 2016

October is that wonderful, seasonal bridge between Fall and Winter. Oktoberfest, even though technically starting in September, brews its special magic. Baseball is winding down like a knuckle ball; football kicks into high gear between the goal posts; and the cool, crisp evenings harbor in the joyously scary All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween. This indigenous American holiday allows adults to indulge their childish fantasies while the kids pretend to be various adult monsters - brilliant! As such, we offer a bevy of unique choices that echo this celebratory climate, be they to share with family over a Mummy Meatball stew, a gourmet Goblin Ghoulash or a Banshee Bouillabaisse that you've been "dying" to try. So make no "bones" about it, enjoy and drink outside the sarcophagus!

Acumen Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $49.99

Acumen is a relatively new kid on the block, but didn't waste any time assembling some tremendous talents to craft their inaugural wines. The team consisted of viticulturists Steve Matthiasson and Garrett Buckland of Araujo, Chappellet, Duckhorn and Spottswoode fame among others, and Denis Malbec, the recently departed star winemaker whom literally grew up at Chateau Latour (his father was cellar master and his grandfather, winemaker) whom worked at Kapcsandy, Blankiet and other blue chip estates. As the team assembled, they discussed the importance of the vineyards, and their health, and immediately converted to organic farming. The vineyards situated high on Atlas Peak were planted by the original owner of Stagecoach Vineyards and are as awe inspiring as they come. The Acumen wines are pure, sumptuous and integrated, with focus on the vineyards and less on intervention. That is the way of the old world, yet with a modern flair. Iron rich volcanic soils and high elevations provide low yields with impressive intensity, but without being cumbersome and clumsy. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, but has a grace and finesse that usually is achieved by blending. It is treated to 100% French oak, but only three quarters is new, with oak is a seasoning, not the main event. Refined and silky, it does have almost a Pauillac pedigree, but with a supple ripeness that is distinctly Napa.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Domaine Pertuisane Nain Violet Old Vine Grenache

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Nain Violet (or purple dwarf) is a wine of mystery; discovering this old vine Grenache will give you a new love for red wine. This is a full bodied and substantial red with notes of dark violets, and crushed berries. This spooky dark wine pairs devilishly and deliciously with your roasts and steaks. Take note that this gem is will drink well with gorgonzola cheese as well as blue veined cheeses. Happy Halloween and drink great wine!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Justin Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

100% Stainless steel fermentation leads to a palate of tropical fruits that is balanced by a refreshing structure of guava, pineapple, subtle orange peel and light herbal notes. Dry, crisp, bright and clean with a slight mineral texture. A great match for tapas and finger foods on the patio. Try grilled peppers, gazpacho, and fried calamari with a lemon squeeze or any fresh grilled fish. An end of summer splash for sure.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Orin Swift Cellars Machete California Proprietary Red

Reg $48.99 | Gazette Special $44.99

Orin Swift Machete is one of my absolute favorites! The wine is a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. The wine pours with a color that is dark, almost purple to the eye and will coat your glassware nicely. Upfront aromas of ripe blueberries, dark plums, pepper, smoke and vanilla dominate the nose before you even get a sip. The palate is inundated with a deep, rich and lush mouthfeel that boast layers of ripe boysenberries, cassis and bold tannins. This is one of the biggest and longest finishes I have ever experienced in a wine. I suggest pairing this with smoked meats such as tri-tip and baby back ribs. Don't be afraid to use a sauce; this wine will pair up perfectly with the best of them!

Rafael Bretado Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Essay South African Chenin Blanc

Reg $9.99 | Gazette Special $7.99

South Africa is among the oldest of the New World vineyards. The Dutch settlers were producing wine since the 1650s and Chenin Blanc has been the most important grape of the area from the beginning. The variety does very well there and the Essay Chenin Blanc is no exception. Wine writer Robert Parker once called it "?a fine Chenin at a killer price." I find it beautifully balanced and the flavors pure, if not complex. I get citrus blossom and zest aromas, along with some nuttiness in the nose. In the mouth tropical flavors emerge. The finish is spicy, lemony, and long. Enjoy this refreshing white alone or with sushi, oysters, Asian curries, sweet-and-sour dishes, and summer salads.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Justin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

The perfect go to red for Fall recipes. Aromas of black cherries and baking spices along with sweet tobacco notes. On the palate there are black currants with underpinnings of oak barrel accents that then continue on with herbal notes and hints of violet. A clean and layered finish surrounded by chewy tannins and subtle floral notes. This pairs just as well with pasta or burgers all the way to Beef Wellington; this is a proven Paso Robles winner!

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Bench Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

Alexander Valley is one of the warmest appellations in Sonoma County and has become known for producing world class Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. This particular vineyard is located in Southern Alexander Valley, along the Western bench of the Mayacamas mountain range. These soils are rocky and volcanic with little water, thus stressing the vines - this condition is ideal for producing intense, concentrated grapes. The nose is vibrant with violets, huckleberry and a touch of vanilla spice. The palate is elegantly taut with dusty tannins and a supple, velvety texture. The long, seamless finish bursts with flavors of black currant, dark cocoa and an earthy spiciness. Sublime with grilled meats and other scary fare!

Michael Cristillo Certified Specialist of Wine & Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Bogle Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

Reg $10.99 | Gazette Special $8.99

I've always been a fan of this extraordinary valued Old Vine Zinfandel, so much depth and complexity for a wine at this price point. For years, the Bogle team has sought out gnarly, head-trained, dry farmed vines that are prized for their production of small, concentrated clusters of grapes that produce incredibly rich and intense wines. This release is weightier than previous vintages, with aromatics of ripe jammy blackberries that segue to a sturdy structure saturated with dark berry fruit, laced with hints of lavender, savory herbs and peppercorn spice through the long finish. The label echoes the season with autumn and Halloween colors so grab a few bottles and have this gem on hand to wow your guests or grace the dinner table with loved ones. Perfect with grilled sausages, hearty beef stew or a chunk of Gorgonzola or Saint Agur from our cheese department.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

Cashburn Central Otago Pinot Noir

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

Cashburn is the second label of Burn Cottage Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand. The wine is made from declassified fruit from the Burn Cottage Vineyard by Ted Lemon of Littorai fame. The property is farmed using biodynamic farming techniques. The Cashburn Pinot Noir has a distinct nose of wet forest, cherry, ripe plums with herbal notes of sage and thyme. On the palate, this wine is driven with flavors of ripe cherry, strawberries, raspberries and mushrooms. The ideal pairing for this wine would be roasted lamb or duck and can also be enjoyed with garlic cheese, triple crème brie and light charcuterie.

Rafael Bretado Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Hartford Court Russian River Pinot Noir

Reg $35.99 | Gazette Special $30.99

Hartford Family Winery was founded in 1993 as a result of Don and Jennifer Hartford's appreciation for the wines, the people, and the unique vineyards near their Russian River Valley home. Located in the Sonoma County town of Forestville, the winery is about 15 miles from the cool Pacific Coast. Making delicious wines of high personality is directly related to the difficult locations of the Hartford family's vineyard sources, the limited production of their bottlings and the varietals they use. As for its pedigree, the fruit is sourced from the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations. Aromas of blackberries, blueberry, and nutmeg are followed by flavors of Bing cherries, wild raspberries, dark plum and allspice. The dense entry is followed by a sweet and juicy mouth feel, supported by acidity, silky tannins and a subtle earthy finish.

Michael Cristillo Certified Specialist of Wine & Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Benton Lane Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Reg $25.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

In the foothills Oregon's coastal mountain range, on the west side of the valley with hillsides sloping east by southeast is the perfect orientation for planting Pinot Noir. The soils are deep and well drained. The Benton Lane property sits due east from some of the highest peaks in the costal range that tend to part the marine cloud layer that flows in from the Pacific Ocean, leaving the site sunnier than most of the surrounding area. Fermentations of the harvest from this near-perfect site were punched-down by hand in the traditional manner to extract color and flavor from the skins. Aging was in oak barrels for 9 months. The wine is brilliant in color and has aromas of strawberry and rose petal with more complex scents of autumn leaves and chocolate layered in. It tastes of bright cherry with floral hints and some anise. The finish is crisp and silky. It is a versatile wine for food-pairing but particularly fond of beef tenderloin or grilled salmon.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Tolosa Edna Valley Pinot Noir

Reg $26.99 | Gazette Special $22.99

Edna Valley is not on the top of most people's minds when they think of "wine country." It's easy to overlook when driving between Santa Barbara and Paso Robles along Hwy 101. If you exit at Arroyo Grande and follow Route 227 to SLO, you will find it's well worth the trip. Edna Valley was one of the first designated American Vinicultural Areas (AVA) implemented in California in 1982, as an area known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. One thing I've noticed about many of the Pinots from this region is an intriguing spiciness not found in surrounding regions. At Tolosa Winery, the vineyards dot the hillsides as far as you can see in all directions. The fog comes in from Morro Bay to the west and gives the Pinot Noir grapes the cool morning/evening and hot afternoon sun that it craves. This flagship Edna Valley Pinot Noir opens with aromas of ripe dark fruit, cranberry, baking spices and a touch of lavender. It has earthy notes of leather and smoke with well integrated tannins, and then there's that lovely spiciness on the finish. Sip on its own or pair it with medium cheeses like Gouda, Jarlsburg or Gruyere.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Les Héretiers Lafon Macon Villages

Reg $23.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

Dominique Lafon, a well-respected and accomplished vigneron of Meursault, has branched out to the Mâconnais, about an hour south of the premier vineyards of Beaune. He has been among the top producers in the Côte de Beaune making both reds and whites, but his Meursaults are world class. His foyer into Macon began with the purchase of an estate in the village of Milly Lamartine renaming it Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, or the heir of Comte Lafon. The same passion that goes into the prized Grand Vin of his namesake is also applied to the more approachable and early appealing Mâcon wines, including biodynamic farming, limiting yields, and certainly letting the terroir speak. 100% Chardonnay from several estate parcels, the wine is gently and minimally handled and sees partial stainless steel fermentation with portions seeing large oak vats to mitigate the wood's influence on the delicate fruit. The flavors are distinctly Burgundian, with green apple, pear, lemon curd and brioche leading to a textured yet lifted finish. This treat is well suited for oily fishes like halibut or opah, or with crab cakes. My kind of Chardonnay.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Daou Paso Robles Chardonnay

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

Family owned and operated, Daou Vineyards is committed to producing collectible, world-class wines to rival the most respected appellations in the world. Situated on a 212-acre hilltop estate in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, remarkable geology, favorable microclimate, and high elevation were once described by renowned California winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff as "a jewel of ecological elements." As stewards of this beautiful terroir, Daou's goal is to make unique fine wines that honestly and accurately reflect the potential of the estate and to craft Bordeaux style wines the combine Old World tradition with New World techniques. A vibrant and tantalizing offers aromas of citrus peel, white peach, nectarine, and lemon meringue pie. Floral and spicy with notes of honeysuckle, star jasmine, nutmeg, and subtle ginger nuances. Lush and smooth on the palate, flavors of pineapple, Asian pear, and Crenshaw melon evolve delicately filling the mouth with tropical essences. A persistent finish leaves lingering spiced pear, melon, and papaya notes. Enjoy with seafood, shellfish, pork, cheese, and poultry.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Hanzell Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

Reg $69.99 | Gazette Special $59.99

When asked the proverbial question, "If you were stranded on an island and could choose only one Chardonnay to drink, what would it be"? - Assuming it's a domestic island and not foreign soil, let's stick with California based wines - it would be Hanzell Chardonnay. Now mind you, if your palate steers you to flavor profiles such as Rombauer, this wine may not be your cup of tea. Hanzell is a very age worthy white that is lean and precocious in its youth. Just last year I enjoyed a 2002 from a Sonoma restaurant and it was still gloriously vivacious. Most other Chardonnays would be long dead. Hanzell winery is planted to forty-six acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir high on the mountain slopes of the Mayacamas Range that overlooks the town of Sonoma. The original planting, the Ambassador's 1953 Vineyard, is the oldest continuously producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard in North America. The Hanzell Clone Chardonnay is regarded as an important heritage clone of California and the bud wood has been propagated to establish other vineyards throughout California and Oregon. As for its characteristics, bright aromas of Bosc pear, green mango, lemon zest and jasmine mingle with scents reminiscent of brioche, anise and slate. While the expansive flavors echo the aromas, there is a savory tone to the overall impression. My recommendation, if you simply can't wait, is to decant this wine prior to enjoying. The mouthfeel gains richness and texture as you go from sip to sip.

Michael Cristillo Certified Specialist of Wine & Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Rivarose Mediterranean Sparkling Rosé

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

Travelers have made the Mediterranean a destination for generations, whether to visit the small country villages, or to bask on the white sand beaches and rub elbows with the rich and famous. And a common passion is the love of the bright, fresh, exotic wines that are enjoyed while relaxing in the warm sunny afternoons. Still fresh in the memory is the romance of those wonderful times and the pleasure derived from such brilliant and lively flavors. Rivarose is a unique and interesting spin on those characteristic wines that conjure such images, yet with a sparkle. The wine is made from the region's Syrah and Grenache grapes and are harvested at night when the acidity rises. Naturally, you want bright crisp flavors in sparkling wine, and this gem delivers. Zesty and refreshing, with cleansing strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit and a piquant tang that keeps you interested. Pair with white or red fleshed fish, mussels, poultry or even Salade Niçoise.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Duckhorn Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

Since 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has been crafting a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc that has become a benchmark for the varietal in North America. This elegant wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. A portion of the Sauvignon Blanc was barrel fermented in French oak. This technique and the addition of Semillon add depth and complexity to the palate. Exotic aromas of tropical fruits, papaya, and passion fruit on the nose along with layers of grapefruit and melon. It is well-balanced, crisp and refreshing with a lingering finish of lemons and lime. It pairs well with pasta dishes with vegetables and buttery sauces, or it is excellent with our Bristol Farms Gouda cheese.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Zocker Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley Gruner Veltliner

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Zocker Winery produces wines made exclusively from the white varietals of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. The grapes, grown on the Niven family's famed Paragon Vineyard in the Edna Valley, are made by veteran French winemaker Christian Roguenant. Zocker - Austrian for 'Gambler' - is a risky venture as these varietals are far from conventional. We like this gambit, for as our statement professes "drink outside the box". Gruner is seldom planted on the Central Coast, but produces intense aromas of passion fruit and grapefruit. It's lively and ripe on the palate, with white rose and green apple flavors, yet balanced with lime peel, cut grass and steely accents. And it screams out for food - Asian, be it old world or nouveau, white fish and shellfish or our Bristol Farms seafood sausages. Or as my better half and I did the other night, enjoy before, during and after the meal. Divine! 91 points Wine Enthusiast 2013

Michael Cristillo Certified Specialist of Wine; Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Hollywood & Vine Napa Valley Short Ends

Reg $37.99 | Gazette Special $32.99

The Hollywood & Vine Short Ends Cabernet Sauvignon is brighter, fresher, a slightly more lighthearted version of the flagship 2480 Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemakers celebrated the vintage as a near-perfect combination of cool spring and warm summer, resulting in grapes with density and concentration. This powerful blend of 84% Cabernet, 10% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc was created within the St. Helena, Oakville, Rutherford, and Carneros AVA's of Napa Valley. The aromas show deep purple berry tones, bright fresh cherry and apple skin, mocha and toasty oak. On the palate, the wine presents a fruit-centered flavor palette of cherry, raspberry, toasted almond and tobacco with notes of vanilla and velvety tannins throughout. Enjoy with filet mignon, rack of lamb, venison and aged cheeses.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Maestro C Major Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Known as the king of red wine grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon produces some of the most expensive wines in the world, especially those hailing from the Napa Valley as well as its native home of Bordeaux. So I'm always pleased whenever we come across good values such as this, that delights our palates and not to mention our wallets. I recommend letting this puppy breathe as long as possible before you dive in, as it's a bit tight and needs time to open up and fully display its true character. Your patience is rewarded with aromas of red and black berry fruit, hints of cedar, leather and chocolate notes, leading to a rich, lush mouth-feel full of blackcurrants and blackberries, well-integrated tannins and toasty oak. The long finish hints at licorice and chocolate and will leave you craving more. A harmonious match with beef and lamb dishes, grilled poultry and hearty cheeses, even a decadent chocolate dessert.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

M.Chapotier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

October may still be a warm month in southern California, but it's also the time that Fall vegetables begin to appear from your local produce vendor. Brown spices, fresh herbs, and denser dishes with savory components begin to cross our dinner table with the ripe summer fruits fading away like that tan you've worked so hard on. While many reach for the robust reds they've stockpiled in the wine fridge, I say break out the whites. Cotes-du-Rhone Blancs are some of the most versatile white wines you can have in your staple. Chapoutier chooses a Grenache Blanc dominant blend with rounding components of Clairette and Bourboulenc. This is a truly dense wine in body, yet bright and acidic to balance food flavors without overpowering those nutty brown spices and fresh herbs. Minerality and crisp orchard fruits fill the palate, while the length and density continue on allowing you to properly chew you food between refreshing sips. Overall this is a versatile wine for all seasons and dishes, but Fall is when this affordable white becomes a shining star.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Andrew Murray Santa Ynez Viognier

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

This winery, named after wine maker Andrew Murray, was founded in 1990 in Los Olivos, California in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA of Santa Barbara County. Known as a "maverick" in the wine business, Andrew Murray was one of the first wine makers to make the switch to screw top bottles, as opposed to cork. One caveat about availability - this Viognier comes from an area known as the "Gravel Pit" and the production tends to be small. So now is your chance to try this bright, delicate, floral, honeyed, citrus imbued wine before it's all gone.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly Hills

Claiborne and Churchill Edna Valley Dry Riesling

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

When most people think of Riesling they have a vision of an overripe sweet wine that should be paired with desserts. What many people don't know is that there are plenty of dry, crisp, and fruity Rieslings to be found from many different countries and regions, which can be paired with a plethora of dishes. Claiborne and Churchill was founded in 1983 and specializes in making dry wines from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat. These dry examples are somewhat of an emulation of the great white wines from the Alsace region of France. This dry Riesling has great structure, intertwined with apricot, honeyed peach, and a pleasing nutty note. Being dry and fruit forward has enabled this wine to go well with many different foods, including chicken, turkey, Pacific Rim and Asian dishes. It can also be enjoyed as an aperitif.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Bogle Phantom Lodi Proprietary Red

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Here's an intense fruit and spice filled wine for those spooky Fall nights. Luscious cherry and dark brambly berries and black pepper tempt the senses, along with spicy vanilla flavors that come from aging for 24 months in 1 and 2- year old American oak. Composed of a proprietary blend containing Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Mourvedre, it has chewy tannins and a bold, long finish. Enjoy this wine on a cool evening with beef roasts, barbecued ribs, sausage pizza, or a hearty bowl of chili.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Tieffenbrunner Trentino-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Founded in 1848, the Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof Winery owes its name to the ancient castle known today as the home of the Tiefenbrunner family. A Northern Italian gem, this Pinot Grigio is a stylish and subtle affair with remarkable finesse. It offers up lovely pear and white peach with hints of white flowers. The minerality really shines on the palate. Wonderfully smooth texture here, and good length to the stony finish. With perfect balance and bright acidity throughout, this is a nice quaffing wine that will also pair well with delicate white fish, scampi, and pasta primavera.

Michael Gregory Certified Specialist of Wine & Merchandising Specialist