The Grapevine Gazette

July 6 - August 2, 2016

There was a great comedy made in the 60's called "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World". How appropriate for the present state chaos and confusion that surrounds us. And it gets more interesting with the upcoming presidential elections - makes one think of the oft used phrase "for better or for worse". We shall see. It doesn't hurt that we're heading into one of our favorite months, July - our mid-summer month, July is the gateway to American Independence celebrations, beach parties, and road trips exploring lands unseen. This seventh month of the year, much like the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game, is the perfect time to take a deep breath, 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. Zesty sparklers, rosy Roses and a variety of summer clime Reds 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.

Stonestreet Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 2012

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $38.99

This terrific Cabernet Sauvignon hails from high elevations in the beautifully rugged Alexander Valley mountain range. Predominantly made from Cabernet with a dollop of Merlot and Malbec kicked in and aged in 30% new French oak, it offers a terrific nose of blueberries and blackcurrants balanced with flavors of dark red cherry, plum, smoke, leather and baking spices. This is a full-throttle, rich, concentrated style of Cab that you can enjoy with all cuts of red meat.

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

Melville Estate Santa Rita Hills Syrah

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Neither brooding nor overly viscous, this 100% Syrah from Melville's estate vineyard is as qualified for your summer grilling efforts as any Zinfandel under the $40 mark. Immediately from uncorking the bottle notes of dark cherries, blueberry, Chinese 5-Spice, smoked sea salt and grilled meats greet your nose. The palette is abundant with lush red and blue fruit pie filling flavors, more roasted meats, earth-like spice and purple flowers. Finishing with an acidic grasp that clears the tongue from one sip/bite to the next, this is a solid effort that will hold well for years and pair well with foods spanning three of the four seasons.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

San Simeon Paso Robles Petite Sirah

Reg $21.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

Petite Sirah has played a significant role in the history of California winemaking. Until recently, however, the specific origins of this variety were unknown. Recent DNA evidence from research led by Dr. Carole Meredith at the University of California at Davis has confirmed most plantings to be the same grape as Durif, a cross of Peloursin, yet another unheralded variety, with the true Syrah. Although never popular in France, Durif was widely planted in California early in the twentieth century and referred to by most growers as Petite Sirah. Winemakers Anthony Riboli and Arnaud Debons employ traditional techniques to preserve the individual flavors or terroir of each parcel of land. This Petite Sirah reveals deep, inky purple color. Aromas of blackberry, ripe plum and pepper greet the nose. Barrel aging in French and American oak contributes notes of vanilla and spice. The mouthfeel is jammy and full-bodied and firm tannins provide structure as the flavors build to a lengthy finish. Enjoy with grilled meats, roasted pork, and sharp cheeses.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Ladera Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $33.99 | Gazette Special $28.99

"What's a good Cabernet for around thirty dollars?" This is one of the most commonly-asked questions I get as manager of the Wine Department. Well there are a bunch of good Cabs in this price range. But the Ladera is the one I feel most confident recommending. If I were going to another country to visit wine-loving friends this is the bottle I'd bring to show off what we do in California. Howell Mountain was officially designated as California's first sub-appellation within Napa Valley. Volcanic soils, full days of fog-free sunlight, yet cooler temperatures make Howell Mountain Cabs special. The Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Bordeaux varietals with Cabernet Sauvignon being the backbone of the blend. Intense aromas of black cherry, vanilla and red licorice with savory notes of olive and dried herbs reward the taster. The concentrated palate reveals brambly black fruits, toasty oak, polished tannins and a long, lingering finish. Some of my customers drink only cabernet. I save a wine like this to have with grilled meat, especially lamb, roasted veggies and just about anything off the grill.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Fuchs Vidal Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Using the Traditional Method, the Fuchs Vidal Cava is produced from the indigenous Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel.lo grapes, with the extended ageing befitting a great bottle of bubbles. The minimum allowed is 9 months, but a Gran Reserva is treated to at least 30 months in bottle which adds tremendous depth and complexity to an otherwise good bottle of bubbly. And to take a delicious sparkler and make it better, it has zero dosage, there is no sugar added back to the wine, so it is bone dry. All that being said, the richness of the ageing in bottle more than compensates for the lack of sugar, the perception is a creamy mousse with a zing. Flavors of vanilla, hazelnut, baked apple and citrus lead to a creamy yet crisp, lingering finish. Great with shellfish, pate, poultry, and cream sauces.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee Champagne

Reg $74.99 | Gazette Special $68.99

007's favorite Champagne! A golden color with very fine, distinctive bubbles. On the nose, it has a beautiful aromatic complexity, ripe fruit and spicy aromas, with hints of roasted apples, apple compote and peaches. On the palate, flavors of pear, brioche and spicy notes of fresh walnut. Pair with all fish, especially sushi and sashimi, shellfish such as shrimp, prawns, crayfish and grilled lobster, poultry and white meat, parmesan or prosciutto or salty snacks.

Brian Moore Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Languedoc Rose

Reg $9.99 | Gazette Special $8.49

This warm weather sipper from the Languedoc in southern France is a beautiful blend of 50% Carignan and 50% Syrah. Fermenting on the skins for just a few hours gives this wine a lovely salmon pink color that just sparkles in the sunshine. Crisp and fresh with forward notes of fresh-picked strawberries, raspberries & cherries, minerals and a bit of salt. Not overly complicated but supremely satisfying. Right now, I'm pairing this with a good book and the backyard lounge chair.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Petra Unger Q Zweigelt Kremstal Austrian Rose

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

France may have a lock on the best Roses on the planet, but this one would give any of them a run for their Euros. And, yes, the name is a bit confusing. So to clarify, Zweigelt is the actual grape and Kremstal is the place of origin where the grapes are grown. Petra Unger took over the winery from her parents in 1999 and has become a rising star in Austria. Roses are a hot commodity for us and this is the first Austrian blush we have purchased. The Unger Rose is a first selection of Zweigelt grapes from the estate's west facing vineyard, picked 2 weeks before those destined for their Red Zweigelt wine, with less maturity and higher acidity. The fruit is destemmed, crushed and then given 2 hours of maceration time to develop color before pressing. The Rose slowly ferments over 7 days in tank at low temperature where it develops flavor on its lees until the end of November. It is then gently filtered and bottled in December. Unger's Rose bursts with crisp, spicy red berry and currant fruit and expresses the inherent freshness of the variety. There is also a palpable amount of intensity and mouth feel on the mid palate, which is often lacking from many pinks. Roses were meant to be enjoyed with all types of cuisine, but you'll have no issues enjoying this beauty on its own.

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

Tiefenbrunner Trentino Alto Adige Pinot Grigio

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

Herbert Tiefenbrunner and his son Christof are expert winemakers, maintaining complete control over all operations from harvest through the winemaking process. The estate produces 700,000 bottles per year, about 70% of them being zesty whites, and the remaining 30% elegant reds. Tiefenbrunner's vineyards are located along the Sudtyroler Weinstrasse, the wine route of South Tyrol, in one of the most picturesque areas in Alto Adige. Straw yellow in color, this Pinot Grigio is youthful and lively. On the nose, this wine has aromas of citrus, white flowers, pear, apple and meadow grass. Up-front citrus flavors give way to stony minerality and a crisp finish.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Trimbach Riesling d'Alsace

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

I'm a big Riesling fan. It has varietal recognition, international range, great aging potential, and it shows the characteristic of the place where it grows as much or more than any grape variety. Riesling is the most elegant grape of the Alsace region where it gives dry, neat, graceful and well-balanced wines. The Trimbach family has been making wine since 1626. That's 12 generations. Imagine! Do you think they have the details all worked out yet? This is tradition, not trendiness. I like to see the beautiful straw color of a wine such as this one. 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 with seafood salads, chicken salad sandwiches, charcuterie, picnics and appetizers on the patio.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Orin Swift Mannequin Proprietary White
96 points Wine Advocate 2013

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

We normally don't promote a wine by its score, but this one in particular is held in very high esteem. This unctuous Proprietary White, which draws fruit from diverse regions as Carneros and the Sonoma Coast, is a unique blend of 76% Chardonnay, 8% Viognier, 6% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc, 3% Muscat and 2% Roussanne. The Wine Advocate could not say it any better - "This is amazing wine, a gorgeous, full-throttle, honeyed wine with a light-gold color, oodles of tropical fruits including pineapple and mango, rose petal and floral notes, and beautifully integrated oak (aged in 40% new French oak on its lees for 11 months). This full-throttle wine is completely different and more individualistic than anything tasted prior. It is a magnificent, full-throttle, exuberant dry white to drink over the next 3-4 years. Dave Phinney is one of the more creative young minds in all of the world's winedom."

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

Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
92 Points James Suckling

Reg $26.99 | Gazette Special $23.99

Twenty Twelve started out with pretty ideal conditions, and to everybody's delight, they just got better. From bud set to harvest, everything was textbook and almost too easy. There is a saying, if you made bad wine in 2012, you should probably try something else. When Bacchus smiles on you, you consider yourself lucky. So Waterstone, a fairly recent entry in the market, was formed as a partnership between some long time industry execs that sought to craft great wines that the mainstream consumer could actually afford. And that they did, with their Oenology and Biochemistry degrees and their vineyard partnerships, they achieved their goals. Waterstone has a string of 90 plus point wines to add to their accomplishments, with that comes critical acclaim. The 2012 Napa Cabernet is a textbook opulent, silky, fruit driven red that is so easy to drink, it is almost impossible not to like. All the components are there, not a hair out of place. Loads of black, cherry, hints of vanilla, chocolate, traces of cedar and a seamless elegant finish. Well done gents!

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Kunza Maule Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Reg $8.99 | Gazette Special $6.99

For my summer selection, time and time again I have enjoyed the comforts of Kunza Cabernet Sauvignon. Grown in the Maule Valley and family owned, this little gem is a party wine with an edge of sophistication. This dark garnet colored wine gives off delicious aromas of hibiscus flower, dried herbs, and dried cranberries. The tasting notes of this Chilean classic include ripe cherries and tobacco, which pair perfectly with grilled and roasted meats, such as Tri-Tip roasts and Filets. Pair this wine with strong cheeses such as St. Andre and Camembert. This is generous wine that will complement any great backyard fun and will have you seeing Fireworks!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Davis Estates Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Davis Estates is a relatively new kid on the block, being established in 2011, when the Davis family bought the old Saviez vineyard in Calistoga and revitalized the property where the winery burned and lay in disrepair since the mid 40's. Currently, the estate consists of only 11 acres planted to vines, but the Davis' own property on Howell Mountain and in Rutherford, where the Sauvignon Blanc is sourced. The DE wines are made by none other than Cary Gott, a 4th generation winemaker whose life existed in or around a winery. Granted he attended USC studying Architecture, but the Watts riots sent him north to Davis and in the end his passion and the allure of the wine business prevailed. Starting in the cellar at Sterling, he eventually worked his way up the ladder to head of winemaking, he and his father built Montevina from the ground up, and he started a consulting business. Cary has worked with icons such as Chappellet and Plumpjack, has helped launch at least 20 new wineries, and like the battery operated bunny, keeps on going. So Davis Estates is a pretty impressive winery by all standards, and their products are solid and offer a very respectable value. The wines are earning respectable scores in the 90's, and they are just getting started. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is very Napa, with an appealing richness that augments its citrus, apple, honeysuckle and straw flavors, leading to a lively inviting fig and stone fruit finish. Well suited to halibut, seabass, grilled poultry and especially sunsets.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Bench Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
91 points Wine Enthusiast 2013

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

Sourced mostly from the renowned Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA, this red beauty offers intense, dark forest fruit and notes of plum on the nose. The palate is tightly focused with bright currant, cola and cedar. The mouthful is supple with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this noteworthy wine. This is a tremendous offering for the price. Great with seared tuna, Atlantic salmon, our Black n Blue burgers or our delicious stuffed chicken breasts.

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

Baileyana Firepeak Edna Valley Pinot Noir

Reg $34.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

The recently constructed Baileyana winery is perched on a knoll overlooking the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo, the single coolest growing region in California. The Firepeak Pinot Noir is refined, rich, and perfectly balanced. Medium garnet in color; aromatic, red fruit aromas, medium bodied and nicely textured on the palate; medium acidity and pleasing red fruit flavors. Pair this red gem with cedar planked salmon, rich pasta dishes and mild cheeses.

Michael Gregory Certified Specialist of Wine and Merchandising Specialist

Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

Marine air bathes these tiny berries in cool mist most nights to promote the perfect balance of fruit and acidity. The red fruits jump out the glass in flavors of pomegranate, raspberry, and strawberry. Herbal notes with forest floor and hibiscus tea come to mind as you savor this violet hued beauty. Polished tannins and a long savory finish beg to be served with fresh Salmon on the grill, try asparagus spears with shaved Reggiano from the grill at the same time. Perfecto!!

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Zestos Vinos de Madrid Garnacha

Reg $11.99 | Gazette Special $8.99

Garnacha or Grenache, and Spain are synonymous; and it is believed Spain is the origin of the varietal. The third largest planted grape in the country, and one of the most widely planted in the world, it has flourished most places where it set root. The grape ripens slowly so it requires a relatively warm climate to develop its enticing ripe flavors. Madrid's San Martin, however, is a temperate climate, so Zestos is harvested much later than its more arid brethren, actually late in the month of October enabling it to develop more depth and maturity without spiking the sugars prematurely. It also is prolific, so controlling the growth is paramount to ensuring quality. The age of the half century old vines coupled with the inhospitable granite and sandy soils do a good job of keeping it in check. Fermented and aged in concrete and stainless steel, the grapes signature profile and soil are allowed to express themselves more fully. Vivid black fruits, black cherry, floral notes and mineral dominate, with hints of leather, scorched earth and white pepper in the enticing long lasting finish. Consistently one of the better values, often rivaling wines twice the price. Pair with cured meats, salty cheeses such as Mahon or Manchego, pizza and anything roasted. An awesome grill wine!

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Badger Mountain Oregon Pinot Noir
(No Sulfites Added)

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

Using a palette of diverse organic grapes, winemaker Jose Mendoza creates a wide array of classic varietal wines with no sulfites added. Jose's imaginative blends results in fresh and provocative wines. One of his great releases is this wonderful Pinot Noir. It carries the USDA Organic logo, and per federal regulations, contains less than 10 parts per million sulfites. This great Pinot shows layered aromatics of dark concentrated rich black fruits with a nice integrated meatiness on the nose. On the palate flavors of blackberry, dark cherry and ripe black current with a nice light touch of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The wine finishes with nice, soft tannins.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Frank Family Napa Valley Chardonnay

Reg $34.99 | Gazette Special $29.99

Bright golden straw in color, Frank Family Chardonnay shares the spotlight with such names as Rombauer and Cakebread. Tropical scents of mango and pineapple lead to fruit forward flavors of pear and apple. Light in body with a buttery toasted oak finish. Lively acidity, rich and creamy, should make this a true crowd pleaser or summer sipper, whatever the occasion.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly Hills

MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

Not always the easiest wine to find, this is one to seek out. Fresh green apple fruitiness is over-lain with carefully measured oak in its clean and composed aromas. Gala apple, ripe pear, and slight citrus flavors layer the palate. This is a very food friendly offering from this small winery. Bright acidity will help cut through medium weight fare such as duck, pate, and all salmon preparations. Highly recommended at this price point.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

From the highly regarded growing region of the Sonoma Coast come this silky smooth wine of ripe pears and tropical fruit. Balanced and elegant with hints of lemon zest, gala apples and nectarines. Vibrant acidity and a pronounced mineral driven finish combine to make this a tour de force in all aspects. Shrimp Scampi or lobster, or King crab legs all come to mind as ideal food pairings.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Santa Lucia Chardonnay

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

At first look, you can see that this is certainly not your typical wine bottle, and Mer Soleil Silver is not your typical wine. Evoking the concrete fermenters that the winery uses to create this Chardonnay, the ceramic bottle is unique, but so it the wine inside. The vineyards are located on the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, influencing the grapes with the sea (Mer) and sun (Soleil.) Tropical fruit essences combine with minerally Chablis-like notes and nice acidity in this clean untraditional style wine. Pairs beautifully with lobster, fresh oysters, or shrimp scampi.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Chardonnay

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

This Chardonnay was gently whole cluster pressed. Two-thirds of the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain its fresh fruit characters. The remaining third was fermented and sur-lie aged or on the lees (yeast and solids) for 10 months in French oak barrels for complexity and richness. Both portions were not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation to retain their lively flavors. The resulting wine has bright mango, papaya, tangerine and pear aromas and flavors that marry with toasty oak from ten months of barrel aging. This wine pairs well with shellfish or pasta with a white sauce.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Force of Nature Santa Maria Pinot Gris

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $17.99

I was very impressed when I tried this little beauty hailing from the Santa Maria Valley. Lush and dry, with bracing minerality and racy fruit throughout, Rob Murray and winemaker Robert Henson have perfected the art of domestic Pinot Gris. The nose is reminiscent of mango, jasmine and a slight nuttiness, while the texture on the palate is dense yet balanced, full of ripe apples, peaches and traces of melon that seamlessly meld through the complex, clean finish. 10 months in stainless steel preserves the crisp raciness that the varietal is known for in Italy and Alsace. The perfect warm weather sipper or pair with lighter fare like mild cheeses, salads, seafood, even roasted pork or poultry dishes.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica