The Grapevine Gazette

August 3 - September 6, 2016

You have to love the ancient Romans on so many levels - unless, of course, you were a Goth or Hun - due to the fact that several of our present day months are named after Roman dictators. In 8 BC the eighth month was named August in honor of Augustus. Why this particular month? According to a Senatus consultum quoted by Macrobius (you knew this, of course), he chose this month because it was the period of several of his great triumphs, including the conquest of Egypt. For us present day barbarians, we celebrate it for more mundane but certainly entertaining reasons, including "national" this and that month - we have National Goat Cheese Month, which will be the perfect match with some of our offered white wines; National Panini Month, of which many of our listed libations will make mouthwatering matches with this famous sandwich; National Peach Month, whereby our Roses and various white wines will make a divine pairing; and finally, American Adventures Month. Everything listed below is included in that category. So revel in this month's selections, and remember to drink outside the box.

San Felice Vin Santo 375 ml

Reg $23.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

Vin Santo is a blend of two grape varietals- Trebbinano (75%) and Malvasia (25%) that are harvested in early October. Clusters are picked and laid out to dry on "Paglie" (straw mats). They are pressed in December or January. The must ferments and then it ages 5 years in small, 225 liter French Oak barrels called "Caratelli", followed by a further 12 months in bottle. Notes of honey, almond, and light spicing. Serve with dried fruit and/or mature Gorgonzola cheese.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly Hills

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot

Reg $54.99 | Gazette Special $46.99

At one time, Duckhorn may have hoped for a quick sequel to Sideways, whereby Cabernet Sauvignon becomes the foil and Merlot can release a heavy sigh of relief. Ironically, whereas other Merlots took a heavy hit in sales, Duckhorn's Merlot remained impervious. This gorgeous wine displays intense aromas of ripe cherry, followed by more nuanced elements of cedar, sweet spices, orange peel and cigar box. On the palate, layers of black raspberry and spiced plum mingle with savory notes of nutmeg. With firm, well-integrated tannins that extend the finish, this beautifully structured Merlot also promises great ageability.

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

Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $42.99 | Gazette Special $36.99

In 1964 Louis Honig purchased a 68-acre ranch in Rutherford. The vineyard was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Louis wanted to create a family gathering place and the scenic landscape provides a nice place to enjoy a bottle of wine and a picnic basket lunch on their outdoor patios. This wine is one of my absolute favorites! Honig is a sustainably farmed vineyard with highly regarded Cabernets. This cabernet was aged for 18 months in American oak barrels. On the nose I get rich notes of dark cherries, cassis, baking spices, vanilla and toasted oak. The finish is long with medium tannins and a bold finish. This wine can be enjoyed on its own or an easy dinner of rib-eye steak and roasted garlic herb red potatoes.

Rafael Bretado Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Ghost Pines San Joaquin / Sonoma Zinfandel

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

Spicy fruit sourced from vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley and Sonoma counties make for an intriguing wine that is really fun to drink. Rich and complex this Zin opens with aromas of raspberry jam and finishes with cracked pepper and toasty oak. On the palate the wine shows black cherries, and boysenberries with some brown sugar and cola, a much multilayered wine, that demands BBQ baby back ribs, or our delicious stuffed burgers. Fire up the grill and toast the Ghost.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Saucelito Canyon Arroyo Grande Estate Zinfandel

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

Off the beaten path, on the back roads of Arroyo Grande in SLO County, Bill Greenough discovered an abandoned vineyard planted with Zinfandel vines from the late 1800s. In 1974 Bill and his wife began the restoration project and have since added more acreage. Focusing only on Zinfandel and using only dry farming, sustainable methods, they have created what can be best described as a "singular Zin" style showcasing the qualities of the Central Coast chaparral covered terroir. Pleasant aromas of fresh boysenberry, ripe plum and brown sugar greet the senses. Medium-bodied with flavors of raspberry and cherry cola, mouth-filling tannins and a long finish. Pair this with Carnitas tacos and other Mexican fare.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Braida di Giacomo Bologna Moscato d'Asti

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

The son of a winemaker, Giacomo Bologna established the small Braida winery in Rocchetta Tanaro, in the province of Asti, Piedmont, in 1961. By the early 1980s He was producing remarkable Barberas and other extremely high quality wines - some of the most famous in Italy. Among the best is this pretty Moscato. Take a minute to appreciate this wine's transparent greenish yellow color. The tiniest of bubbles might also be visible. The aromas of grape and peach are clean and pleasing. Delve a little further for complexities like banana, citrus, litchi, pear and even some sage-like herbal notes. Moscato d' Asti is very low alcohol so go ahead and quaff it. You will like the crisp, effervescent attack and the pleasing sweetness. The wine is creamy and refined. Peach and pear flavors come back on the persistent finish. I like this as an afternoon refresher by itself after some gardening or outdoor sport, or as a dessert wine with fresh fruit or cookies.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Morgan Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

Reg $31.99 | Gazette Special $26.99

Morgan Winery focuses on small production terroir-driven wines from the best vineyards the Santa Lucia Highlands has to offer. Twelve Clones Pinot comes mostly from their estate Double L Vineyard as well as a selection of neighboring vineyards. This wine shows the powerful elegance that is classic of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Black fruit aromas on the nose and hints of anise and tobacco are complemented on the palate by cranberries, cherries, and spice. The bright acidity completely balances out the full bodied fruit on the palate. The wine has a velvety texture and a long enjoyable finish. Pairs beautifully with salmon, duck, and all lean cuts of beef. Highly recommended at this price point.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

WesMar Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Reg $45.99 | Gazette Special $39.99

WesMar is collaboration between husband and wife team Kirk Wesley Hubbard and Denise Mary Selyem. For those old school Pinot lovers, you might recognize the Selyem portion from the iconic Williams & Selyem, the original cult California Pinot Noir. So not falling far from the tree, Kirk and Denise (with a little insight from papa, off the record of course) and the WesMar team set out to create place specific wines that showcase an AVA, or even a specific vineyard. Their focus is not on a formula, over ripe fruit, low acidity, sweet on the palate cocktail wines for all, but rather early picked, physiologically ripe zesty wines that are designed to enhance food, not replace it. For some, more is more, but in purist ideology, it is the essence of the grape not the extract, that makes them so desirable to many. Pinot should be elegant, finessed, not a clumsy, knock you around concentrated beast. Then again, we've had those and they too have their place. The 2012 Russian River Pinot offers high tone nervy fruit with ample dusty cherry, plum, rhubarb flavors with just enough spice and oak to enhance early appeal. This wine should develop nicely for a decade. 90 Points Burghound.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Swanson Napa Valley Merlot

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Billed as a "Merlot for Cab drinkers" this wine reminds us just how complex and luscious a Merlot can be. Swanson Estate sits in the heart of Napa's Oakville district. Careful farming, low yields and a long hang time builds intense flavors and retains the natural acidity in the grapes. The wine opens with aromas of deep dark cherries, baked plums, brambly earth tones, gingerbread and fennel. In the mouth, these flavors continue and are accompanied by velvety tannins and a medium to long finish. Open it in advance or decant it for the most pleasure.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Alto Moncayo Veraton

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $26.99

The Alto Moncayo Veraton started as a collaboration between importers Jorge Ordonez and Dan Phillips as well as Australian winemaker Chris Ringland and others. The winery is located near the town of Borja on 210 acres. The vines are 3,000 feet above sea level and are planted in soils such as slate, clay, chalk and quartzite making the old vines/roots work deeper into the earth. This wine is made from 100% Grenache aged for 16 months in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels then finally being bottled without filtration. Aromas of Bing cherries, dark plums, raisins, cocoa and tobacco notes come through nicely on the nose. On the palate this wine has a long, rich and powerful finish with medium tannins, low acidity and rich dark fruit. This wine pairs well with BBQ ribs and tri-tip. This wine will continue to improve over 10 years.

Rafael Bretado Wine Specialist Newport Beach

La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva

Reg $25.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

One of Spain's most respected and revered regions, Rioja is believed to have been cultivated as far back as the Phoenician times. Early written records from the mid-9th century indicate that the Monastery was involved with winemaking; it seems the Monks were always a step ahead with such ritualistic endeavors. Rioja is split among 3 subzones, Alta, Alavesa and Baja. Alta, the westernmost has high elevation vineyards that have a shorter growing season due to the Atlantic Influence vs. Baja which is warmer and more Mediterranean climate. The elegance and balance of Rioja Alta shows more lifted and bright fruit character with more evident balance. Vina Alberdi is 100% Tempranillo, the berries were hand harvested and shipped in temperature controlled containers to maintain freshness. The wine was aged in new American oak barrels for a year and then transferred to seasoned 3rd fill oak for a second year to minimize the impact of the wood. La Rioja Alta delivers a taste of the old world and terroir while maintaining a purity and clean fruit that modern consumers enjoy. Ample black currant, cherry, bramble fruit notes are accented by integrated caramelized notes, licorice, leather and mild herb. Fantastic with a simply seasoned well-marbled steak, rack of lamb, savory sausages and cured meats.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Monte Antico Tuscan Red

Reg $11.99 | Gazette Special $9.99

There is good value in Sangiovese wine at nearly every price point, but this month I want to call attention to one of my favorite among the lower-priced values. This Tuscan Red is made from 85% Sangiovese, with a little Cabernet and Merlot added, and harvested according to conditions in the individual terroirs and microclimates. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and macerated on the skins for 15-20 days. It is then aged for one year in oak and further aged in the bottle for a full year. No surprise in the tasting notes, Monte Antico is a Tuscan classic! The deep ruby color and bouquet of leather, black cherries, anise and plums is followed by a medium to full-bodied palate where earthiness, subtle notes of vanilla and violets linger. Soft tannins and silky texture make for a very pleasant finish. Food pairings are no surprise either. This easy-to-like red pairs well with pasta or risotto, red meats, fowl and cheeses.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

La Clef du Recit Sancerre Blanc

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

One of those wines that continue to impress after the many years we have offered, Anthony Girard's La Clef du Recit Sancerre is spot on with the right balance between stone fruits, green apple, mineral and just enough restrained herbs to give away its origin. There is a division between both camps when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, it's love it or leave it, I am in the "bring it on" wing. Anthony broke from the family estate a few years back, and his intuitive nature and his love of hard work brought about a new winery, a fully restored old stone home, and some spectacular old vineyards and all with just the help of family and friends. Gregarious and driven, and infinitely talented, this young vigneron is one to watch. Having been to trade events in the Loire, and tasting upwards of 50 Sancerre in a setting, this one routinely comes out in my top 5! That's no small feat considering the competition. Pair with steamed mussels, sashimi, our asada chicken breast or chicken fiesta sausages.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Frog's Leap Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

They say good things come in small packages and this has never been truer than in the case of this Sauvignon Blanc. Some argue that the third year of well-below average rainfalls is the culprit but, ironically it is more likely that the cool, damp weather during pollination was truly to blame. Whatever the cause, the yield in 2015 was significantly lower than average. Looking on the bright side; however. Lower yields usually go hand in hand with intense aromas and concentrated flavors. This certainly is the case with 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. Intense aromas of white flowers with hints of ripe peach literally fill the glass and elevate you expectation of the crisp, minerally flavors to follow. Enjoy salads dressed with citrus vinaigrette, grilled trout or oysters.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Ladera Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $23.99

Ladera winery may be known for its Cabernets, but their Sauvignon Blanc is a great treat unto itself. Ladera Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of three clones: Clone #1, Liparita and Sauvignon Musque, which offers unique differences in style all with their own unique varietal distinction. This white gem possesses aromas of honeydew melon, green apple and pear with floral notes of citrus blossom. The flavorful palate is packed with tropical fruits, a viscous texture and a cleansing acidity that meld beautifully for a long, sustaining finish. Dynamite match with all shellfish and seafood dishes, and makes an alluring quaffer when enjoyed solo.

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

Edna Valley Vineyard Edna Valley Chardonnay

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $10.99

The Edna Valley AVA was established in 1982, and is home to the longest growing season in California, ideal for allowing the grapes to develop rich flavors and complexity. The vineyards enjoy gentle sunshine, cool ocean fog, and rich soil-perfectly balanced for coaxing the best possible fruit from the vine. At Edna Valley Vineyard, produce crisp, balanced wines which reflect the character of the grape and the region in which it was produced. Display an attractive bouquet of quince, pear, ripe apple, apricot and light pineapple with underlying brown spice notes of cinnamon and clove. Enjoy with roasted chicken, pasta with cream sauce.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay Reserve

Reg $36.99 | Gazette Special $31.99

Named for the two forces of nature that strongly influence this wine: mer/sea and soleil/sun. This golden colored Chardonnay opens up with aromas of lemon and peach, layered with subtle notes of butterscotch. The palate is full and fresh, with ripe flavors of fruit blossom and a hint of mango balanced by natural, vibrant acidity. Medium to full-bodied, the wine has a finish that is lengthy but never heavy. Its mix of oak, butter and fruit characteristics are blending seamlessly and leaving a harmonious, lingering impression. Enjoy it with some seafood or by its own!

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

McIntyre Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

Originally planted in 1973, this 80-acre site boasts some of the Highlands' oldest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. Owner Steve McIntyre, one of the most respected and important viticulturists in California, has planted or farmed nearly one quarter of the Santa Lucia Highlands. His vineyards are among the first properties in the Santa Lucia Highlands to be SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certified. And to top it off, he has famed wine guru Brian Kosuge as his chief wine maker. This Burgundian-style Chard offers up a melange of citrus, apple, tropical fruit and a dash of vanilla. The palate is generous without being heavy or overbearing while the finish boasts a nifty blend of power and finesse. Superb!

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

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Chardonnay

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $23.99

This wine is quite the big luscious Napa Valley Chardonnay. Light greenish yellow in color, it contains an intriguing quantity of aromas and flavors. Starting out with a bouquet filled with green apple, pear, citrus, banana, peach, toasted oak and nutmeg, the flavors of apple, stone fruits, and vanilla then abound in a rich but balanced wine with a long, long finish. Very enjoyable with creamy garlicky pastas, roast or barbecued poultry, or citrusy sauteed scallops on a warm summer night.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Ghost Pines Sonoma/Monterey Pinot Noir

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Far from your typical light and fruity Pinot, this one will wake you up with its big and bold expression. Crafted from vineyards in Sonoma and Monterey Counties, this Pinot is smooth with intense flavor and richness with a deep red color. The nose offers notes of cherry pie and pomegranate with ripe plum while the oak barrel influence boasts flavors of vanilla, baking spices, and roasted coffee bean. Truly a paring with Salmon on the BBQ is the choice for the summer grilling season.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

Reg $22.99 | Gazette Special $18.99

I have an intense overall enjoyment for Pinot Noir, not an unheard of thing since the movie Sideways led to a massive commercial upswing in sales over a decade ago. But something happened during that initial boost of new Pinots onto the retail wine shelves (around 10-20 new labels a month at one point). The wines became fruitier, denser, sweeter and overall less Pinot like. Cabernet drinkers didn't mind. Central Valley Rhone drinkers didn't mind. But, those of us who liked lean elegant translucent wines started leaving California for Oregon bottlings or the occasionally affordable offering from Burgundy. Fortunately a number of the original Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir producers didn't follow the trend and stuck to what they had been doing for over 20 years, making truly elegant wines that age well and drink young. Au Bon Climat is world renowned for the quality of their single vineyards and Estate Pinots, but the simple county Pinot has always been a daily affordable friend to my wine rack. The color and body are both in a medium-light balance. The nose is lush with red berries, plums and brown spice. The palate is light tannic in the initial release and mellows over the first hour of opening. Again, lush strawberry and plum notes wash around the tongue with a cleansing and welcome acidity to brighten up your meal. The finish falls fast but lingers pleasantly between sips. This is a food wine that may stand alone but prefers to be paired with light meats, soft cheeses, and general Southern California cuisine.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Cht du Rouet Provence Rose Tradition

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

At times, with Summer comes unbearable heat - what I look forward to are the endless outdoor activities we wish to choose from. Whether its beach days, picnics at the park, outdoor movies or just relaxing on the porch with good company, this beautiful Proven├žal Rose fits the bill. It has a refreshing blast of rose petal aromas with crisp minerality loaded with notes of cherry blossom, raspberry and strawberries. This classically crafted gem is made from 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. It is bottled in the classic hourglass shape made famous by the region. From salads to burgers, salmon to paninis, Chateau Rouet can handle it all.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

Marques de Caceres Verdejo

Reg $7.99 | Gazette Special $5.99

As we are already made our way into the 'tail' end of the Summer season, I love going down to the harbor for seafood; and with me comes a little secret from Rueda, Spain. Verdejo, a native grape to Spain, is a delicious upbeat wine that delivers a bolt of fresh citrus and minerals notes in a bottle. This is the wine that is all zing and no bland- it is expressive and light but packs a punch for flavor and has the versatility as an aperitif, or paired deliciously with sushi to shellfish. This is wine is dedicated to all the seafood snackers - this should be your safety wine for grilling outdoors and still capable of standing up to a Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta night! Keep the glass full, make memories. Cheers.

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Castlefelder Sudtirol Alto Adige Pinot Grigio

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

There is a magical place in Italy where the cattlemen wear leather shorts and the cows have those big copper bells. Cool alpine breezes come down off the mountains and the closest neighbors speak a kind of German. The vineyards here make some of the most distinctive white wines in the world, famous for their freshness, fruitiness and minerality. The vines hang from trellises and grow in alluvial soils. The grapes are softly pressed, clarified through natural gravity, and fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures (18- 21 degrees C) to retain the classic aromatic qualities. Prior to bottling the wine is aged for a minimum of 4 months on the fine lees in the tank. Its rich aromas speak of pears and apples. The wine has balance, strength and structure. It is dry and smooth on the palate with a pleasant, mineral aftertaste. Pinot Grigio goes well with many dishes, especially lighter foods, fried mushrooms and fresh water fish.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Domaine Poli Ile de Beaute Corsica Rose

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

Not easy to say, but dangerously easy to drink, Domaine Poli makes a dazzling rose from the Corsican grape Niellucciu. Originally believed to be a French grape indigenous to this small French territory, it seems that the DNA links it to Sangiovese, which happens to be, Italian. So that saga continues. But no matter the origins, the Poli Niellucciu delivers brilliant peach and pink grapefruit intermingled with a fleeting herbal and slightly piquant note. The wine is captivating and energetic and has a cleansing nature due to its racy acidity. A fun alternative to the usual suspects. Marry with shellfish, red fleshed fish, or fowl, or enjoy as an aperitif.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Laurent Perrier Brut Cuvee LP

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

A classic, Laurent Perrier was founded in 1812 and has been a leader in innovation since its inception. After the passing of its founder, the cellar master was awarded the estate due to the lack of heirs, and he invested in much of the infrastructure that makes the house great. Following his ultimate passing, his widow ran it and continued to build it to prominence. Today, Laurent Perrier remains one of the leading houses due to its quality and timeless style. Utilizing a dominant portion of Chardonnay, the elegance and finesse shines through. Green apple, citrus, pear and vanilla flavors race across the palate, while the creamy mousse provides the richness and texture that balance out the lively fruit components. This is a wonderfully satisfying, cleansing and exhilarating bottle of bubbly that makes every day a celebration.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

VieVite Provence Rose

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

VieVite Rose is produced by Domaine Sainte Marie, located just outside St. Tropez in Provence. This is a bold rose that has a long satin and smooth finish that lingers flawlessly, a true wine lover's blush. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, this is a wine with fresh and delicate aromas of red fruits and spices; elegant and savory, it has rich flavors of wild ginger, dried cherry, hickory smoke and spice that are accented by plush notes of meringue and lemon curd. It is paired best with any grilled dish and is great served as an aperitif with a tapenade spread.

Michael Gregory Certified Specialist of Wine & Merchandising Specialist