The Grapevine Gazette

July 2 - 29, 2014

July, our mid-summer month, is the gateway to American Independence celebrations, beach parties, and road trips with hitched trailers leaving their marks on the American highway. This seventh month of the year, much like the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game, is the perfect time to let your hair down, find the sunscreen, throw on the swim wear, fire up the barbeque, take in a sporting event or find that secluded camp site somewhere and convene with Mother Nature. July may have the Ruby as its official stone, but the color of the wines enjoyed during this very warm sojourn tends to be white. Wonderfully zesty German Rieslings, New Zealand Gruner Veltliners (that's right, not Sauvignon Blanc) and other esoteric whites will join Rose and a cornucopia of enticing reds that will cater to all types of cuisine and palate profiles. There is something here for everyone to take pleasure in, much like this month's ability to gratify all flavors of activity. So revel in this month's selections, and remember to drink outside the box.

Estancia Meritage Paso Robles Proprietary Red

Reg $26.99 | Gazette Special $22.99

At the pinnacle of Summer, we find ourselves chasing wines that offer superb taste with reasonable prices. Look no further - Estancia, Spanish for "Estate", provides us with a gem of a bottle. The Meritage Red Blend is your personified 'Bordeaux from Paso;' being made up of rich notes of French vanilla, coffee within velvety tannin. This solid red has black cherry fruit quality coming from a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot that's preferably paired with aged cheddar, Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue or a Cambozola Blue cheese and it is suitably drinkable with saucy short ribs, glazed beef fillet, or our awesome aged New Yorks!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Slo Down Wines Sexual Chocolate Proprietary Red

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

The boys of Slo Down Wines started off as bootleggers in college, but have managed to take their wine-making far beyond the dorm halls and into a whole new realm. With a marketing scheme usually reserved for craft beer brewers or skateboarding companies, you might be tempted to pass on this proprietary red made from Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot grapes. However, you'd be missing out on the luscious full-bodied dark berry, earthy and yes, chocolaty, flavors of Sexual Chocolate. Think of Slo Down as Orin Swift's punk cousin who's just now coming of age. In fact, Dave Phinney was so taken with the boys that he's working with them on their next wine. Don't be held prisoner to conventional drinking!

Clint Fultz Wine Specialist Westlake Village

Gallo Signature Series Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

Reg $34.99 | Gazette Special $29.99

In my humble opinion, nothing pairs better with grilled fare than a delectable, mouth-watering 100% Zinfandel. This beauty is sourced from four quality vineyard sites (including the prestigious Monte Rosso Vineyard) resulting in grapes boasting rich, concentrated flavors. A third of the blend was fermented using a submerged cap, allowing for a more gentle extraction which created softer, more elegant tannins. The second fermentation (malolactic fermentation) took place in both French and American oak to round out the mouth feel. The individual barrel lots were combined in April allowing the flavors to integrate, and the final blend was aged 9 months in a combination of new and used oak. The result is a superbly well-balanced and structured wine with aromas of black currants, cassis and a hint of white pepper. Dark and jammy fruit dominate the palate, underscored by notes of vanilla, toasted coconut and a hint of black licorice throughout the long, clean finish. Cheers!

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Westwood

Remelluri Rioja Reserva

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri is the oldest wine Estate from Rioja. With written records dating back to 1596, it has existed and been kept alive in various states by the ancients, but was revitalized in 1967 when Jaime Rodriguez Salis took over and breathed new energy in the vineyards. With some plantings nearing the century mark, there is a balance between old and more modern. The 2009 Remelluri Rioja Reserva is all estate fruit, with a seamless melange of mixed red fruits, vanilla, mocha, and delicate brown and baking spices. Its pedigree is unquestionable, and Telmo Rodriquez has fashioned another winner. 93 Points The Wine Advocate

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Reynaud Crozes Hermitage Beaumont

Reg $23.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

What is Crozes Hermitage, you ask? Crozes is considerably lighter than its brethren, the precocious Hermitage and does not possess the elegance or finesse of the Cote Rotie. The price for Crozes Hermitage is considerably less than you would pay for these two other Syrah gems. Maybe that's part of the reason why this northern Rhone wine is currently in vogue. Add in the fact that Mr. Reynaud, one of the rising stars of the appellation, incorporates bio-dynamic practices. The wine has a refined yet earthy attack, a nice subtle spiciness and finishes with an oh-so refreshing and lingering note that begs one to have just one more sip.

Alex Brideau Wine Specialist Westchester

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Merlot Indian Wells

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

My customers often tell me they don't like merlot. I suspect they really mean they don't like the boring generic merlot that you can get at any chain store. What they forget is that some of the nicest Bordeaux are mostly merlot. Another thing they aren't thinking of is that the best merlot in America comes from Washington. This is not your flabby, one-dimensional merlot. Chateau Ste Michelle Indian wells Merlot comes from some of the northernmost vineyards and actually has more structure than many cabs. The aromas remind me of ripe berries and jam. I find it surprisingly versatile, good with roasted chicken, grilled lamb chops, or hearty pasta and Italian herbs.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Robert Foley Merlot

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $53.99

A Merlot for Cabernet lovers, the dark ruby hue leads to thoroughly ripe aromas and flavors of red cherry, espresso and clove. The rich mid palate gushes with candied cherry, cassis and currant character framed with chewy yet elegantly fine tannins. Masculine structure and spice from Howell Mountain marry perfectly with round femininity of Calistoga to create a perfect textural balance. If you think you don't like Merlot, reserve judgment until you've tried this merlot. Enjoy with prime steaks, lamb chops and hearty pasta dishes.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Corte Moschina Valpolicella

Reg $13.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

Veronese wines are often overshadowed by those of the Tuscan scape, but they certainly deliver a lovely palate of flavors. Valpolicella, one of the more populist from the region, is one that should receive more attention. Corte Moschina has received acclaim and awards for their Amarone, but it is a powerhouse that isn't ideal for every day. The Valpolicella is a sumptuous and balanced cornucopia of mixed berry, dried cherry, spice and a touch of leather. Well suited for roasted meats, sausage, cured meats and mushroom dishes.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Colosi Nero d'Avola

Reg $15.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

Though Sicilia is rarely thought of as one of Italy's top wine produces, there are a few gems reaped from the island at extremely modest prices. Nero (black) d'Avola is a dark bittersweet grape low in acidity and perfect for food. Colosi comes through with the familiar bitter cherry component on the nose with a touch of coffee and lilac. The palate is soft and slightly jammy with tons of cherries and dark bitter chocolate. This is the perfect summer red for those looking for something closer to Cabernet Sauvignon than Zinfandel. Pairs easily and well with most any pasta, steak or pork dish and is a must for outdoor grilling.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Beaux Freres Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $52.99

The rich, volcanic and glacial soil of Oregon's Willamette Valley yield some of the world's finest Pinot Noir, and the Beaux Freres Winery, located near Newberg Oregon, produces some of the very best American Pinot Noir wines available at any price. Dark purple in the glass, with aromas of black currant, vanilla and Asian spices. Intense and full-bodied in the mouth, offering hints of plum, black cherry and raisin. This wine has a soft velvety finish that makes you want more. Ideal with prime rib or hamburgers off the backyard grill. A truly great wine at a reasonable price.

Jon Frugoli Wine Specialist Hollywood

Torres Sangre de Toro

Reg $10.99 | Gazette Special $8.99

Summertime is BBQ and picnic fare. A time to have fun wines to partner with a wide variety of nibbles. Not complicated, no these have to be wines that can stand well by themselves yet, afford a nice compliment to savory fare. Well the modest Sangre de Toro, from the renowned Miguel Torres family, was introduced in the mid-60s and i have savored a bottle now and then since the latter 70s and it never disappoints. This wine explodes with a very rich, ripe dark fruit aroma and flavors that affords a wonderful accompaniment to hearty and spicy meat dishes. As a side note, Garnacha, which is the principal grape variety of this wine, is the main grape principally cultivated in the Mediterranean, and known as Grenache in France and the US.

Alex Brideau Wine Specialist Westchester

RH Coutier Brut Blancs de Blancs Grand Cru

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $39.99

Located in the grand cru village of Ambonnay, R.H. Coutier produces Champagnes exclusively from grapes sourced from the village. The Coutier family has been in Ambonnay since 1619, and are pioneers in Chardonnay cultivation in the village, which is generally considered Pinot Noir territory. Beautifully crisp with bright, but not aggressive, bubbles, the fresh green apple notes are balanced with a slight yeastiness. The result is a wine that is a perfect accompaniment for summer: refreshing, casually elegant, and, well, sparkling. 93 Points The Wine Advocate

Erin Kinney Wine Specialist Manhattan Beach

Pinot Patch California Pinot Noir Rose

Reg $13.99 | Gazette Special $10.99

Jesse and Aaron Inman, the winemakers at Patch, make wine to be enjoyed with family and friends, wine suitable for every day barbecues or even special dinners. These young winemakers grew up under the tutelage of their Uncle August "Joe" Briggs, so they put their expertise and wonderful pedigree to good use by making great affordable wines. Pinot noir is extremely food-friendly and this rose of the grape is no exception. It is light in color but certainly not in complexity. Lush with strawberry and watermelon notes, it is round and crisp, ending with spice and a minerality that reminds one of a rainy Spring sidewalk. It would go beautifully with a steak with sauteed mushrooms, or a simply dressed green salad with goat cheese.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Dr. F. Weins Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

Kabinett Rieslings are among the most food friendly and crowd pleasing white wines on the market. Medium dry or slightly sweet, depending on whose description you read, these low alcohol wines are just the thing for your next afternoon get-together. A marvelous bouquet of fresh peaches combines with mild acid to enhance most light fare. The F. Weins Prum offering is one of the best from the Mosel region and at 8% alcohol, you might consider a second bottle.

Don Ziehm Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Raza Vinho Verde

Reg $9.99 | Gazette Special $8.99

Vinho Verde is an ancient wine from northwest Portugal. The region has high rainfall and the vines are trained on tall trellises to prevent rot. Raza uses the local varieties Arinto for lemony tartness and Azal Branco for aroma. Vinho Verde is always low in alcohol, very fresh, tart and slightly effervescent. Quinta da Raza is an award-winning vineyard built on gentle slopes with magnificent exposure to the sun. Raza Vinho Verde is momentarily fizzy-looking as you pour it. Citrus and floral aromas leap from the glass, and you can feel the prickle briefly on your tongue. The taste is very pleasant with an almost briny tartness. Please add food. Salads, shellfish, sandwiches, salty snacks come to mind. Quaff this wine as the alcohol is a low 11.5%. Better bring two bottles.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Here's a lovely rose from the Coteaux d'Aix en Provence. 85 hectares of a 150 hectare property are sustainably grown, with vineyards that were cultivated in the 13th century by the Knights Templar. The profound depth and lingering finish can be attributed to the blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. About 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is also in the blend, which I think affords such a lingering, beguiling echo in the finish. Crisp and dry with enough subtle notes to complement a wide variety of foods, from grilled seafood, poultry and oh yes, crustaceans. A memorable summertime treat. ***And check out their new 3 liter size Rose in a box. Easy to use for concerts in the park, picnics, party gatherings. 90 points Parkers Wine Advocate

Alex Brideau Wine Specialist Westchester

Sylvain Bailly Quincy

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Quincy ( pronounced "can-see" ), is a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc village, 30 miles southwest of Sancerre where they produce a great value that Sauvignon Blanc lovers like to keep as a secret for themselves. Just a bit more voluptuous and a little more exotic than its famous cousin, it's also easier on the wallet than a bottle of Sancerre. Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc and never oaked, it is full of lime & mineral aromas. Very elegant with crisp lemon-lime fruit, cut through with a delicious mineral streak. Great acidity and an extra-long citrusy finish. Pairs beautifully with Asian food, fish and even goats cheese.

Michael Gregory Wine Specialist Santa Monica

Postales Patagonia Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

The parent company to this wine, Postales del Fin del Mundo', literally means 'winery at the end of the world' and is a remarkable project based in the wild Patagonia region at the southern end of Argentina. The climate is extremely dry, with low annual rainfall, so irrigation is needed - the water used for this comes from the River Neuquen, itself fed by Andes melt water. This exotic blend (based on the famous Bordeaux pairing) offers intense floral and fruity aromas with citrus notes and a mineral touch. On the palate, the wine is fruity and balanced with refreshing acidity and a long finish. No oak barrel aging is used so what you get is just what Mother Nature intended you to taste.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Villa S. Andrea Gamberaia Toscana Blanco

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $9.99

Overlooking the breathtaking and romantic vineyards of Chianti, the Villa S. Andrea estate is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and mature orchards. Their Gamberaia white is crafted from Vermentino & Pinot Bianco that was grown on the estate, and great pains are taken to meticulously tend the vines. It is hand harvested, endures stringent selection, and sees only stainless steel. The flavors are bright and crisp, with apple, citrus, blossom and delicate lingering finish. A natural with white-fleshed fish, light pastas and poultry.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Jules Taylor Marlborough Gruner Veltliner

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Great wine, great story. Ms. Taylor got her degree in zoology. There being a slight shortage of vacancies for zoologists in Marlborough, New Zealand, she went on to do a postgraduate course in winemaking and viticulture. Her first jobs had her working harvests in Piedmont, Sicily, Australia and finally back home at Cloudy Bay. As such, when you mention New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is the first thing that pops to mind. That's why this Grüner Veltliner, indigenous to Austria, is so exciting. This is a cool climate wine with characteristics that lie somewhere between an aromatic Pinot Gris and a Chardonnay. The berries are gently pressed and the juice cold settled for two days to remove any solids before fermenting with selected yeast strains. The fermentation was kept cool and long to retain the vibrant aromatics. Its delicately perfumed nose shows white peach, floral and lime notes with hints of almond. The stone fruit theme is carried through to the palate, where peach and citrus notes are found.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Bodegas La Cana Albarino

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

The Albarino grape thrives in the moist coastal area of Rias Biaxas on the Southwestern coast of Spain, where there are approximately 20,000 vineyards, planted mostly with Albarino. Importer and investor Jorge Ordonez spearheaded the movement to upgrade Spanish wines from swill to suave in the late 60's and 70's. Winemaker Natalie Christensen finishes La Cana Albariño in one half stainless steel tanks and one half oak barrels, producing a citrusy, mineral character as well as a creamy lemon chiffon and peach texture and flavor; followed by a crisp, clean finish. Albarino's low alcohol, ripe fruit, fresh and lively character match beautifully with spicy Indian and Thai fare, and of course Spain's signature dish, paella.

Orris Cowgill Wine Specialist Santa Monica

L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Semillon

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

L'Ecole Winery is located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley and is the third oldest winery there. The second generation, family-owned winery is committed to a `tradition of excellence`. You will most often find the greatest Semillon in the Bordeaux region of France, or the Hunter Valley in Australia. However, this Semillon from Columbia Valley is a refreshing new world example of this varietal. It has brilliant aromas of orange blossom and jasmine. The acidity is vibrant on the palate with flavors of lemons and stone fruits. This wine will pair up beautifully with all lightly sauced fowl and white fleshed fish dishes and of course all Goat cheeses.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages

Reg $13.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

The Drouhin wines have received world-wide acclaim from the press and wine lovers year after year. This Chardonnay was recently named "Best New World White Wine" by UK's influential Decanter Magazine. The color of the wine is bright and limpid. The nose is floral and fruity. Very straightforward and direct on the palate, as if biting into a grape. Fresh and light, with a very pleasant aftertaste.

Brian Moore Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Butter California Chardonnay

Reg $15.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

If you like over the top butter bombs (like Rombauer), you will probably love this one at a third of the cost. Produced by JAM cellars (John and Michelle) out of Sonoma County, this wine is creamy and smooth on the palate with a scent of vanilla and oak. Flavors like pineapple and honeydew show through and linger to the finish. Yummy. It is clearly worth seeking out if this is your passion.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly West

Villa Creek Paso Robles White

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Villa Creek has a reputation for big expressive Paso Robles reds perfect for Fall and Winter cuisine. However, it's the primarily Grenache Blanc and Rousanne "White" that makes me look forward to Spring and Summer. Peaches, honeysuckle, elderflowers and lemon zest abound on the nose. Japanese plums and white pepper intermingle as effortlessly as the light acidity and dense waxy tones do on the palette. Finishing with a palate cleansing rush of lemons and pink grapefruit, this is one complete white that should excite your taste buds and entice you to explore the unknown.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Maldonado Napa Valley Chardonnay Los Olivos Vyd

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

With roots deeply entrenched in Napa, Lupe Maldonado was recruited from Sterling Vineyards by the visionary Peter Newton to start up his new winery. After a few years at Newton, he was promoted to vineyard manager and after another decade, he retired leaving his son at the helm. The family exercised their knowledge of the land and used their resources to secure some vineyard land of their own. They live on the vineyard, tend their own fruit, and have additionally secured the talents of Newton's winemaker Jean Hoefliger. The wines are rock solid, rich and opulent, with ample flesh to carry the complex pear, baked apple, and tropical fruit, into the enticing, lingering, juicy finish. It is both showy yet structured, and is a testament to how great Chardonnay can be. Pair with fresh salmon, lobster, game hens or soft rind cheeses. 92 Points Wine Spectator

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay

Reg $49.99 | Gazette Special $44.99

In 1992 Debbie and Randy Lewis established a small family winery in Napa Valley and were later joined by their son Dennis in 1999. Their Napa Chardonnay showcases the opulence, balance and complexity of this outstanding wine. Remarkably ripe and saturated with stone fruit, pear and mineral, the wine is shot-through with toasty oak spice, caramel and brioche. Sumptuous texture and beurre blanc dominate the mid palate with plenty of lees character and native acidity bringing a long, delicious finish. This wine will pair well with Oysters Rockefeller and Dover Sole Veronique. 93 Points Wine Spectator 2012 Vintage

David Yaquinto Specialist Palm Desert

Cambria Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

Named after proprietor Barbara Banke's youngest daughter Julia, this Pinot Noir is created from a consortium of different clones and vine ages. Older plantings provide the mineral base while the newer material offers up the dark fruit aromatics and a lush texture. Dark cherry, strawberry and pomegranate flavors share an underlying earthiness that balances out the dense fruit characters. Since 2009, all the grapes from this Estate Vineyard have been certified as sustainable under the Certified California Sustainable Winegrower (CCSW) program. Pair this delicious red with duck, roast chicken, quail, grilled pork loin, rack of lamb and even filet mignon.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Romililly Sonoma County Pinot Noir

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Romililly Sonoma County Pinot is composed of three Vineyards. The grapes were fermented independently of one another and blended prior bottling. The wines are aged in 25-40% New French oak for 10 months. Initially on the nose there are aromas of dried cranberry, graham cracker crust, vanilla and cooking spices followed by subtle notes of rooibos tea and red licorice. On the palate are roasted strawberry, rhubarb and tart cherry. The mouth-feel is full, but lighter on the fruit allowing the more subtle components to show. The finish is long and mellow. Pair well with lamb, pork, poultry and veal.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena