The Grapevine Gazette

December 3 - 30, 2014

Fall slowly immerses itself into Winter while holiday bliss surrounds us - For the past few months we have been enveloped in holiday chaos - with Halloween on one end and Christmas popping up on the other. This special season allows friends and family to gather for the festivities and enjoy the stories and memories we've gathered since our last celebration. And beyond the usual commotion that ensues leading to the grand holiday finale, we find ways to balance out this passion play of insanity - perhaps a soothing glass of wine while slumping into a comfy chair and allowing yourself to be mesmerized by the dancing flames of a warm fire. So even though the suggestions below will make splendid recommendations for your turkey, ham or roasted this and that, don't forget the immediate gratification of sipping a delicious beverage for all its hedonistic pleasure. Our Fine Wine staff wishes you and your family the greatest of holiday salutations and remind you, as always, to enjoy and drink outside the box.

Ridge Three Valleys Proprietary Red Blend

Reg $28.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

After all that turkey and gravy, I will need one of my latest treats. Ridge has been officially making wine since 1962 and some even remember its 5th Place award in the Judgment of Paris in 1976. These grapes grown on their property are all organic with production and harvesting all having been sustained with clean energy and non-chemical pesticides. Made from Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Mataro, Alicante Bouchet, and a splash of Grenache, this complex assortment focuses more on the rich taste in a medium bodied wine. Sweetened by the taste of cherries, and raspberries and balanced out by jam and herbs, I would highly recommend this delightful blend with meals ranging from Short Ribs, Baked Chicken, Pulled Pork (my favorite!), and definitely Tri-Tip. Happy Holidays!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Brown Estate Chaos Theory Napa Valley Proprietary Red

Reg $41.99 | Gazette Special $36.99

Long a fan of the Brown Estate wines, their Zinfandel and Cabernet are very high quality, produced from their estate on the treacherously rugged mountains above the Chiles Valley, but I feel their proprietary blend called Chaos Theory one ups them both. Kind of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" theory, an artful blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah, the flavors are, almost literally explosive, with dense smoky black fruits, red berries, savory herbs, and violets in the concentrated, inky, dense finish. This one calls for a hearty dish, perhaps a well-seasoned cut of beef, winter stew, or a blue veined block of cheese. Another big bang!

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Yalumba The Strapper Barossa Valley GSM

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

This blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro is a real beauty from Down Under. Authentic Barossa Shiraz is sandwiched between the understated bouquet of Grenache and the earthy tannins of Mataro, which gives it that rich mouth feel. This is a dense, brooding wine without being heavy-handed as the cherry, blackberry, pomegranate and spice flavors dance through the vigorous finish. As for the name - The Strapper in thoroughbred parlance is the reliable and trustworthy member of the team - not generally in the limelight. Rather, this is the wine that winemakers drink, when they're not having a beer, of course. - A well-bred, strapping and unctuous wine. 91 points Wine Spectator 2012

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Sherwin Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $39.99

The grapes come from Mount Veeder, St. Helena, and the Sherwin Family Mountain Estate. The wine was aged 22 months in new French oak. With a dollop of Cabernet Franc added, the nose is reminiscent of dark fruits with hints of cedar and vanilla rounded with sweet spice and earth tones. This wine offers tons of mouth coating fruit with a firm structured backbone of sweet tannins and acidity. Powerful yet elegant, with a long extended finish. Black cherry, cinnamon, clove, chocolate and earth are only but a few elements that stand out from this 2nd vintage effort from Steve Sherwin and Consulting Wine Maker Mike Herby. Enjoy with grilled steaks, prime rib or pasta with red sauce. 77 % Cabernet, 15% Merlot and 8% Cab Franc.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Domaine Lorieux Chinon Cuvee Theleme

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Brothers Alain and Pascal have deep roots in the Loire Valley, and certainly have mastered the cultivation of the indigenous Cabernet Franc. Between the two of them, they own vineyards in Chinon and St. Nicholas Bourgueil, and are noteworthy producers of both. The Cuvee Theleme Chinon is a well-rounded, flavorful Franc that delivers ample blackcurrants, mineral, leather, tobacco and notes of tea, with a lingering powerful yet supple finish. The solid core of fruit will entice you outside the constraints of Cabernet Sauvignon as it delivers another level of dried berries and a delicate herbal tone. Unknown and misunderstood by many, it was the crossing of Franc and Sauvignon Blanc that created the more well-known Cabernet Sauvignon. This underappreciated varietal is the key component of the world class Bordeaux of St. Emilion as well. Pair with rib roasts, lamb or a personal favorite, beet and goat cheese stack with toasted pistachios.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Tantara Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $38.99

Located in the Santa Maria valley, this winery has consistently made some of the most compelling Syrahs, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Now their new offering of a Cabernet Franc is no exception. The fruit for this gem is sourced from the Mateo vineyard (Santa Ynez valley) and is comprised of 80% Cabernet Franc with Petite Verdot added to tame the beast you might say. The wine exudes notes of rich black fruits, chocolate, coffee and a nice vanilla lushness. A wonderful holiday treat to offer to compliment your finest roasts and savory poultry dishes.

Alex Brideau Wine Specialist Westchester

Clos du Val Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $31.99 | Gazette Special $27.99

Clos du Val Winery was founded in 1972 by John Goelet and Bernard Porte and was one of the first wineries in the Stag's Leap District of Napa Valley. With the purchase of an additional 180 acre vineyard on the Carneros hillside, Clos du Val released its flagship 1972 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that was one of six Californian Cabernets to compete with French Bordeaux wines at the famous 1976 Paris Tasting. This Napa Cabernet benefits from cooler temperatures, which allowed a longer hang time of grapes on the vine. This silky wine is well-balanced with flavors of currant and blackberry and hints of vanilla, toffee and carob that give way to smooth and long finish. Pair with braised short ribs, mushroom stroganoff, roasted winter vegetables or enjoy alongside an artisanal blue cheese such as Point Reyes Original Blue.

Clint Fultz Wine Specialist Westlake Village

La Quercia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Reserva

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Winemaker Anteno Lamona enjoys making wines that are "pleasing to the body and spirit", 100% organic with low yield that result in some of the most expressive from the district. This Italian gem is aged for a year in Slovenian oak, creating a wine that is rich and mouth filling with lingering flavors of ripe black fruits. Not sharp or acidic rather, but reminiscent of a California wine that has the presence of fruit to grace all meat dishes, especially a nice roast or grilled steak and yes, pasta or pizza offerings.

Alex Brideau Wine Specialist Westchester

Ruffino Chianti Riserva Ducale Oro

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

Tis the season for giving and sharing in general, and one classic I am sure to share is Ruffino's Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale. This is the bottle that started my enjoyment of Italians wines a few decades ago and I still find it to be a moderately priced bottled for a quality Chianti Riserva. The nose has the familiar violet and cherry notes that carry across many Italian wines and then there is that bouquet of dark plums and spice that tells you something bold lurks inside. The color in the glass is opaque with a purple rim. Flavors of cinnamon, cola and clove intermingle well with the dark cherries and plums. The tannins are present without being overwhelming and offers a taste of the holidays. The perfect choice for bring for a host gift or paired with grilled, roasted or braised meats and a big dish of baked ziti.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Olivier Leflaive Chassagne Montrachet 2012

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $52.99

It's the holidays and you want to enjoy a Chardonnay with your great meal, but not just any Chardonnay will do. You want Burgundy. The wines of Olivier Leflaive are famous for their depth of flavor and balance and this rich and powerful wine offers a remarkable nose dominated by aromas of acacia, sweet spices and ripe stone fruit nuances. Marked by a hint of oak, there are rich notes of mandarin, undercut with fresh lime acidity and which carries to the vibrant finish. This cuvee is produced from the Leflaive vineyards, Houilleres and Pierres, and also sourced from the terroir of Charrieres, La Bergerie, Les Mazures and Voillenots - yes, there will be a quiz on who can pronounce these French words without stumbling over one's palate. Match with your holiday poultry, veal or ham. And I would also suggest you decant this young wine prior to enjoying. Joyeux Noel!

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Bodegas Ordonez Zerran Montsant

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

Recognized as an expert by every standard, Jorge Ordonez has travelled just about every inch of Spain in search of the best wines the country can offer. He has invested heavily in numerous wineries, and certainly invested time and energy in others. He has almost single handedly revitalized the country's image in the eyes of the wine aficionado. Montsant, a small DO and subregion of Tarragona, envelops the well-known and historic Priorat. As a relatively young DO (Denominacio de Origen) of only ten years, the youth of the region is a welcome element that is already expressing its forward looking style. The Zerran, crafted from old vine Grenache, Carignan and Syrah is a blockbuster with tons of mixed berry fruit, restrained spices, just enough underbrush and herbs to maintain its sense of place, and a lingering silky, brilliantly fruity finish. This wine, especially for the price, deserves to be savored again and again. 90 Points The Wine Advocate.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Cellar Can Blau

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

This full bodied easy drinking Spanish blend is comprised of Syrah, Garnacha and Mazuelo, the Spanish word for Carignan. Robust and elegant with mild tannins and a great berry-fruit bouquet, it will pair perfectly with Crown Roast of Pork, but please consider it as a great, price conscious holiday gift for wine loving friends. The striking diamond mosaic label truly complements the great value inside.

Don Ziehm Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Castiglion del Bosco Dainero Toscana Sangiovese~Merlot

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Castiglion del Bosco is a centuries-old estate deep in the Val d'Orcia, comprising a castle, a church and old town walls in the heart of the countryside. This delicious blend is 90% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese and offers delectable aromas of blackberry and black cherry with a spicy note. Rich and round flavors of ripe plums, blackberry and black cherry with peppery notes. It is flavorful and complex with firm tannins and a unique versatility that makes it suitable for everyday drinking. 90 points Wine Spectator 2010

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

San Felice Chianti Classico

Reg $15.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

This is not a quaffing wine. This is a wine to savor with your tortellini and pecorino. A dashing, classical wine of the highest order from the finest spots on the Tuscan hillsides. Dark cherry, raspberry and violets accent the restrained complexity from a particularly talented wine maker, Leonardo Bellaccini. A Chianti Classico that is genuinely a cut above the rest. Wine Enthusiast 88 points 2011

Brian Moore Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

The Sonoma Coast is a large 480,000 acre American Viticultural Area and was created at the request of Sonoma-Cutrer winery. A part of this AVA includes parts of the cool climate Russian River Valley while excluding warmer areas. This Pinot Noir has exotic aromas of black cherry, blackberry with hints of cola, black licorice and subtle dried herbs. The flavors are focused on lush dark fruit which provides an enticing plush texture. Broad tannins mixed with a lingering fruit core round out the finish. This wine will pair well with mesquite grilled salmon or a variety of meats from beef to pork or chicken.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Meiomi California Pinot Noir

Reg $21.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

The name 'Meiomi' ( may-oh-mee) means "coast" in the language of the native, coastal dwelling Wappo and Yuki tribes, and pays tribute to and symbolizes the origin of this Pinot Noir. Joseph J. Wagner, owner of Belle Glos and the Meiomi wines, has forged a perpetual goal of crafting Pinot Noirs that exude their origins and represent the best of their class in any vintage. This perfect holiday-styled red has dynamic aromas of ripe strawberry, black cherry and vanilla. It is full and plush, smooth as silk, with soft tannins and great balance. It is best paired with veal, pork and poultry.

Gabriella Elkouby Wine Specialist Westwood Village

Brazos Los Andes Red Blend

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

This Argentine gem hails from the esteemed Zuccardi family. The Zuccardi's have been living in Mendoza since the late 19th century and is now the largest family-owned winery in Argentina. A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Bonarda, this "masculine" red hits you with intense red and black fruit aromas with spicy, violet and chocolate nuances. Great structure with soft and mature tannins are balanced by the bold fruity flavors and a mouthwatering finish. Pair with your favorite cuts of red meat or even holiday poultry - duck would be sublime.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Pinot Patch California Pinot Noir

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $9.99

I am a huge fan of second label wines. I always say that just because someone is producing a lower price point wine does not mean that he or she has all of a sudden become a bad winemaker—quite the contrary. Pinot Patch is no exception. Produced by Aaron and Jesse Inman, the brothers behind Romililly Wines. Pinot Patch is their under-$20 offering. The wine gets its name from their fruit selection process: they "patch together" selections from vineyards that meet their high standards to craft an approachable yet nuanced Pinot Noir that doesn't break the bank. Lush red fruit flavors are accompanied by herbal and spice notes, all supported by a graceful structure, giving the wine remarkable complexity and finesse. This bottle of casual elegance is perfect for big holiday meals or pizza-and-a-movie night.

Erin Kinney, Wine Specialist, Manhattan Beach

Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages

Reg $13.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

Nestled between Paris and Lyon, the historic wine region of Bourgogne stretches from Chablis to the Maconnais appellations. The Chardonnay grape reigns supreme in the Maconnais due to the" terroir", rich in clay and limestone. One of the perennial best values hailing from this region is the Drouhin Macon-Villages. An upfront, straightforward Chardonnay that is pure and clean, drawing you in with a beautiful nose of white stone fruits, hints of tropical fruit, flowers and nuts. The mouth feel is medium bodied, soft and round, with nice minerality and moderate acidity that balance the sweet-ish, dried peach/apricot and citrus fruit-dominated finish. The perfect accompaniment to poultry, full-flavored fish dishes and charcuterie, so stock up and have some bottles handy to enhance your holiday meals and compliment your culinary creations. Buyer beware, once you acquire a taste for Burgundy, you will likely be a lover for life!

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Westwood Village

ZD Wines California Chardonnay

Reg $34.99 | Gazette Special $31.99

When people think of California Chardonnay they usually envision a rich and creamy full-bodied wine loaded with intense fruit. This ZD Chardonnay is a great example of those big yet elegant wines. The fruit was hand harvested from cool coastal vineyards and then fermented in cool tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavors. This was followed by ten months in small toasted oak barrels. These practices in the vineyard and in the winery combine to produce a wine rich in character while boasting juicy tropical fruit flavors. The nose is floral with apple and pineapple notes showing nicely. On the palate this Chardonnay is packed full of fruit and spice with a lingering toasted coconut finish. Enjoy this great wine with chicken and seafood dishes.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Fixin

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $39.99

For more than eight generations, the Mongeard family has been producing wine with an utmost respect for tradition. Fixin (pronounced Fee-san) is a pretty Burgundian village situated in the Cote de Nuits district between Dijon and Gevrey-Chambertin. The best vineyards are on brown limestone soils with east to south-east exposures. The wine has a delicate color and an excellent structure which makes it robust rather than subtle. Cherry and berry flavors are backed by firm tannins in this rustic, juicy red. It has good acid content, solidity and substance. With its tannic structure it will partner well with braised pork, beef rib steak with parsley, or poultry stews like tandoori.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Domaine La Clef du Recit Sancerre Blanc

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

A perennial favorite, Sancerre doesn't just shine in the heat of summer, but it is a fantastic foil for a wide variety of Holiday fare as well. Crisp zesty citrus, gooseberry, fresh cut grass and mineral notes set the stage while elegant green apple, bosc pear and notes of flint deliver another level of flavor and complexity. After meeting young Anthony Girard, owner and winemaker, one visit to the old out building behind his home reveals his joie de vivre, and his uncompromising work ethic. Building an entirely new winery from scratch, and completely self-remodeling his home, it is a wonder he has time for his real passion, winemaking. At a recent trade fair, the bottles of Sancerre were lined up dozens deep, and to this taster, La Clef du Recit stood head and shoulders above every other, including the established and world renowned pricey darlings of the region. Anthony is destined to achieve greatness, and judging by his wines, he is well on his way.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Trimbach Riesling d'Alsace

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

I'm a big Riesling fan. It has varietal recognition, international range, great aging potential, and it shows the characteristics of the place where it grows as well as any grape variety does. Riesling is the most elegant grape of the Alsace region where it produces dry, neat, graceful and well-balanced wine. The Trimbach family has been making wine since 1626. Imagine! Do you think they have the details all worked out yet? This is not the latest trendy thing in wine, but it is tried and true. I like to see the beautiful straw color of a wine like this. The aromas show minerality, spice, tropical fruit, and flowers. The flavors hint at peach, quince and lemon and are lingering and dry. I recommend this wine for all your Holiday feasts.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Mionetto Prosecco Extra Dry

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

For 125 years Mionetto in Valdobbiadene has been writing the history of Prosecco, interpreting this delicious local wine and telling the world about it. Passion, tradition, research and excellence are the fundamental values of this winery and its brand, each with their own unique, unmistakable style. Made from the grape, Glera, this sparkling wine has a fruity and floral nose and palate with notes of honey, acacia and apricot. Smooth, yet dry on the palate. Perfect for celebrations, Sunday brunch or anytime with any food.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top NV Brut

Reg $35.99 | Gazette Special $29.99

Founded in 1785, Heidsieck Monopole is one of the oldest Champagne houses in existence. It was one of the most noted labels at the turn of the last century, and the choice of royalty from the King of Prussia to the English Court. Its pedigree is unquestionable, and its style is unique, with the signature blue top, it continually delivers star quality. The dominance of Pinot Noir brings out the richness and currant flavors with notes of toast, coconut, vanilla and delicate notes of ginger. The wine is attractive and well balanced with a cleansing, crisp, citrus infused finish. Terrific with poultry, salmon, shellfish and of course caviar. 90 Points Wine Spectator.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Louis de Sacy Grand Cru Brut Rose NV

Reg $42.99 | Gazette Special 36.99

Having held vineyards in Verzy, France, since 1633, the Sacy family has quite the winemaking pedigree, a lineage that is twelve generations long. That heritage and its resulting expertise enable the family to produce wines that are lush, lovely, versatile, and affordable. This Champagne is all that you'd want in a holiday wine and more. Made from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier, it has a festive light strawberry-pink color and subtle notes of toasted nuts, Rainier cherry, spiced pears and citrus zest. Elegant and balanced, it will pair with all sorts of party or dinner offerings: hors d'oeuvres, cheese platters, smoked salmon, roast lamb, turkey and the trimmings, or pizza with the kids. An excellent choice for your midnight toast or any type of celebration.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Trefethen Oak Knoll District Dry Riesling

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $17.99

In 1968, Eugene Trefethen had the foresight to purchase 600 acres of land in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. The land was littered with walnut, pear and plum trees, as well as old vineyards and the rundown relic of 19th century wine-production that was the Eshcol winery. Like a good Austrian Riesling, this elegant white, is for lovers of gravelly, minerally flavors rather than overtly fruity wines. This Riesling is tremendously food-friendly, thanks to its unusual combination of weight, acidity and intense flavor without a trace of oakiness. I can vouch for its ability to pair well with sushi, tomato salads, grilled vegetables, chicken sausages and most importantly turkey. Right there you'll have enough pairings to take you through the rest of the holidays.

Michael Gregory Bristol Farms Merchandiser