The Grapevine Gazette

September 7 - October 4, 2016

Adieu summer, bonjour autumn. Fall is in the air, although the temps may still fondly remind us of summer. The holiday season approaches; football kicks off; baseball season slides into the playoffs; and the kids are back in school. Oh thank goodness for this time of year when we heartily celebrate the good times to come. So wave goodbye to summer, fire up the grill for that last hoorah and welcome the change of seasons, as much as they do in the southland. Our knowledgeable wine staff has chosen an eclectic plethora of wines to quench your thirst and stimulate your palate. We invite you to explore this month's selections, and remember to drink outside the box.

La Dame de Malescot Margaux

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $49.99

The wines of Margaux have earned tremendous admiration due to their silky and sumptuous fruit profile, and rightfully so. The appeal of these wines has caused tremendous interest, of course, followed by not so subtle price increases. The best chateaux earn top dollar, rivaling those of Pauillac. The wines show tremendous purity, and grace, and definitely deliver a fantastic tasting experience. Great producers throughout the world pay excruciating attention to their flagship wine, but not every vine, cluster or grape makes the cut. So what happens to those slight imperfections? Those same wineries make alternate labels, or second labels that come from the same estate, same vineyards, sometimes the same vines. Just maybe a degree short of perfection, but absolutely worthy of great wine. So Chateau Malescot Exupery, a Third Great Growth Margaux, makes La Dame de Malescot from its culled fruit that didn't make the cut during the meticulous sorting regimen, a painfully rigorous process. But out of this process is born a fantastic wine for early enjoyment. The 2009 Malescot Exupery was rated 96 Points by Robert Parker, and suggests consumption between 2020 and 2040, of course all good things are worth the wait. Or, you can buy several of these, enjoy them now while you wait for your highly priced bottles to mature. Compact and complex with dense black fruits, restrained spice, mocha, cedar and evolving wood components. A delicious Margaux by all measure.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Bonacchi Molino del Piano Brunello di Montalcino 2010

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $32.99

Cantine Bonacchi, founded in 1965, is a family owned winery that is situated in the heart of the Montalbano Hills, in between the towns of Florence and Pistoia in Tuscany, Italy. Not a bad place to set up shop. The bouquet is soft and seductive thanks to its generous offerings of cherry Maraschino and melted chocolate. This Brunello is a balance of Old World flavors (for you purists) and New World nuances - Dark, inky concentration is backed by ripe tannins and loads of black cherry, raspberry, spice and leather. Great richness and length on the finish. 92 points Wine Advocate

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

Blackbird Vineyards Arise Napa Valley Proprietary Red

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $49.99

Blackbird vineyards was purchased in 2003 by Michael Polenske. Before there were vineyards, the area was a walnut orchard. 5,717 Merlot vines were planted in 1997 and is now the ultra-premium label for Blackbird vineyards. In 1999, Mia Klein of Dalla Valle fame created the Blackbird Vineyard designate. This vintage became a success and had high accolades in the wine industry. This vintage is a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The grapes spend 21 months in French Oak barrels: 50% new and 50% seasoned. The nose boasts aromatic notes of black currant, vanilla, nutmeg and anise with a background of cedar and violets. The palate is soft and supple, with a long, lingering finish. I recommend pairing this wine with roasted lamb for a truly wonderful experience.

Rafael Bretado Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Orin Swift Palermo Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $42.99 | Gazette Special $37.99

Dave Phinney, owner of Orin Swift and crafter of countless masterpieces for other producers, has come a long way since beginning his winemaking career with 2 tons of purchased Zinfandel grapes in 1998. Following big successes with wines such as The Prisoner, Papillon, and Abstract, Phinney has launched several new labels in recent vintages, including Machete and Palermo along with some French projects. Palermo is made from the excess grapes purchased to blend his Mercury Head and Papillon, so this wine is a TREMENDOUS value! A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from hillside vineyards in Napa Valley, its multidimensional aromatics of cassis, currant, mulled dark fruits, and toasty barrique oak perfume the glass. Opulent and rich, the wine boasts concentrated flavors of black cherry, ripe boysenberry, kirsch, finishing with notes of dark roasted espresso wrapped in velvety tannins. This wine is amazing now and will cellar beautifully for another decade if you have the patience, maybe you'd better grab a few. A heavenly pairing with your favorite cut of beef, lamb chops, BBQ ribs, grilled veggies and aged cheeses. Very limited, the 2014 hasn't yet been rated, but Robert Parker gave the 2013 Palermo 94 points!

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

Grgich Hills Napa Valley Fume Blanc

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

This has been my go to Fume Blanc for over two decades. Lime zest, honeyed green tea, and tangy green apple flavors are just the beginning of this classy Fume. A tart lemony acidity laced with distinctively floral and grassy characteristics spreads out on the palate. Melon, herbs, vanilla and spice form a seamless wine. One that is consistently tops in California garnering stars in the Connoisseurs Guide To Fine Wines. Enjoy this with all shellfish, seafood, chicken, and of course goat cheese. Highly recommended, especially during the hot summer months.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Sometimes the grape variety is perfectly suited to the vineyard. In fact this is the hoped-for arrangement. In the ancient vineyards of Europe the vines have been in place for hundreds, even thousands of years. In the New World it can be hit or miss. Here we rely more upon the winemaker. But sometimes there is a lucky match where the grape variety thrives and perfectly joins with the vineyard. Pinot Gris and the Willamette Valley is such a match. Willamette Valley Pinot Gris bursts with flavor and sings with balance. The King Estate Pinot Gris was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and aged on the lees for five months. The aroma is of grapefruit, lime, melon, honey and flowers. The flavor gives citrus, apples, peaches and spice. The wine is viscous in mid-palate and finishes crisp. This is the white wine to have with poached salmon. It also goes well with grilled white meats, seafood and creamy sauces.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages

Reg $13.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

Nowhere in the world is terroir of more importance or as much of a factor as in Burgundy, France. Home to arguably the most prestigious, highly regarded and sought after Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the world. Unfortunately these wines either never see retail shelves or come equipped with an astronomical price tag that leaves them unattainable for most, but that doesn't mean there aren't other stellar options or dare I say, great values to be found. Leave it to the Drouhin family to elevate Macon-Villages to new heights by capturing Macon's clay and limestone minerality and supporting it with a core of lemony Chardonnay fruit. Pale gold in color, it opens with classic white Burgundy aromas of meadow flowers, roasted hazelnuts, buttery lemon curd and a trace of limestone. The wine's acidity carries through on the palate, where it joins with notes of sweet butter, brioche, lemon zest and apple blossoms. Crisp and focused it finishes with freshly squeezed lemon, soft vanilla and a final wave of limestone minerals. A delightful sipper on its own, this will also make a wonderful complement now and over the coming 3 or 4 years for roast chicken, pork, halibut and snapper.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

La Cana Rias Baixas Albarino

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

This wine is a ripe style of Albarino. Light, bright yellow, lively, sharply focused scents of lime zest, green apple, jasmine, tarragon and ginger. Dry and taut on the palate, offering vibrant citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a hint of smoky minerals that build with air. The floral notes come back strong on the finish, which shows excellent clarity and firm mineral bite. This wine was aged in stainless steel tanks, with some lees stirring to add body. A cool wine from the Jorge Ordonez Portfolio. A wine of this quality and magnitude can only come from carefully tended old gnarled vines grown under adverse conditions. Enjoy with seafood, chicken, salads and vegetarian dishes.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Veuve Ambal Brut Blanc de Blanc

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $9.99

Bubbles, what is more fun and inviting than the of a champagne cork? When it happens at a gathering or event, it just sets a different mood, and almost without fail I hear somebody burst out "I love that sound." And what's not to love, it prepares the appetite for the sparkling libation that we look so forward to. But the fact is, most households don't enjoy as much bubbly as they should, it seems to be relegated to a special event, as though every day isn't special. Well it's ok to wait for the weekend anyway. As the Grand Marques Champagnes tend to be pretty lofty, when it comes to making a selection, there is a myriad of choices for the aficionado and novice alike. A favorite that really offers a ton of brilliance to the party is the Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc. It has the richness and creamy mousse that are telltale characteristics of an upper end sparkler, but at a fraction of the price. The Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc has a supple texture coupled with vibrant acidity, making it quite crisp and lively. The yeasty, doughy creamy mousse lingers while it cleanses your palate. Ideal as an aperitif, with white fish, cream sauces or with smoked salmon.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Cyprus Russian River Chardonnay

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

Winemaker, Dan Fitzgerald, lived in Europe for 13 years and developed his affinity for delicately balanced, lower alcohol wines. Dan's enological pedigree is impressive - he worked with Winemaker Bob Cabral at Williams Selyem Winery in the Russian River Valley, Coldstream Hills Winery in Australia and Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley. Combine that experience with fruit culled from the famed Russian River valley, and you have a gem of a wine. This Chard's bouquet is fragrant with pastry crust and toasted almonds. The palate is elegant with mouth-watering acidity and texture, whereby the nuances of pears, apples and wet stone linger on the crisp, clean finish. A great deal at this price! Match with our seafood "catch of the day", shellfish, hand-made poultry sausage, stuffed chicken breast, or simply to watch a gorgeous summer sunset.

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

Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Founded in 1977, Matanzas Creek winery is located on the site of a retired dairy farm in Sonoma County's Bennett Valley. In 1985, the original winery, a converted dairy barn, gave way to a modern winemaking facility and since that time the Estate's Bennett Valley Vineyards have grown to include over 280-acres of Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah. Vineyard acquisitions in Sonoma Valley, Carneros, Russian River Valley and Knight's Valley provide the Vineyard management and winemaking teams with an enviable selection of fruit. Sourced from Estate-owned vineyards, the Matanzas Creek wine portfolio includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot, as well a limited amount of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Expressive and bursting with aromas of white grapefruit, pomelo, nectarine and lemon thyme, hints of fresh oregano and yellow guava. Crisp in texture with bright acidity, the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc utilizes an entire breadth of winemaking techniques to create this beautiful wine. Enjoy with salads, oysters, shellfish and grilled seafood.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Alysian Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc Grist Vyd

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Long time guru and legend Gary Farrell launched Alysian with partner Bill Hambrecht after selling his namesake winery to Allied Domecq, a spirits conglomerate. But Gary didn't skip a beat, with his first releases getting significant notoriety. Recently retiring, he has passed the baton to Bill's son Woody Hambrecht, another accomplished winemaker and agriculturist. All in the family for sure. Woody has not only continued to make great wines, but quite possibly better. The Grist Vineyard is located in Dry Creek Valley, where Sauvignon Blanc does particularly well. The wine is brilliant, brisk, and zesty with ample lemon-lime, quince, green apple, notes of melon and a fleeting saline mineral note. Quenching and refreshing were the first thoughts that crossed my mind. I happen to love that style of wine, whereas some like the dense oily types, so buyer beware, this is a leaner style destined for shellfish, ceviche, steamed crab or citrus marinated grilled chicken.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Fontodi Chianti Classico

Reg $36.99 | Gazette Special $31.99

Chianti Classico is the heart of the Chianti region in Tuscany where the Sangiovese grapes have been used to make wine for centuries, and the Fontodi Estate has been a part of this history since the 16th century. Their vineyards form a natural south facing amphitheater and the owners, Marco and Giovanni Manetti, practice organic agriculture and other non-interventionist practices. Well known for its award winning Super-Tuscan, Flaccianello della Piave, its Chianti Classico is an excellent expression of what the region has to offer. Aromas of dried herbs, crushed violets, ripe red fruit and cigar box greet the senses and the first sip will coat your teeth and tongue with grippy tannins. Sip after sip, this savory delight is made for food. What kind of food? Italian of course! Try it with the Tuscan regional favorite, Bistecca all Fiorentina - a dry aged porterhouse steak lightly seasoned with rosemary and salt, rubbed with olive oil and grilled.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Verso Rosso Salento IGT

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

Opaque layers of obsidian depth and crimson edges visually greet the glass with a nose full of Thanksgiving aromas. It is dominated by cranberries and tart cherries tinged with lighter notes of sagebrush and roasted fowl. The universal little black dress soft and velveteen slips across the tongue with a fresh homemade tomato jam that's not exactly sweet and dark chocolate covered berries that are slightly less than dry balanced in suspension with the former. Rounding out with pepper and brown spice the finish is long and dry with mouthwatering acidity. This is food wine for lovers of roasted meats, summer grilling, Fall braises, dark chocolate, dirty rice and bold character. Pick this wine for parties. Store a few bottles for later in the year. Versatility at this price and quality is a rarity.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Olivier Leflaive Chassagne-Montrachet

Reg $69.99 | Gazette Special $59.99

The Leflaive family, rooted in Burgundy since 1717, has established in recent years their reputation as one of Burgundy's finest producers of Chardonnay. Chassagne-Montrachet is located in the heart of Burgundy's white wine region where two of the most famous Grand Crus, Batard-Montrachet and Le Montrachet, are found (split almost evenly with the commune of Puligny). The juice from each plot is vinified and aged separately. Primary fermentation and aging takes place in 100% Allier oak, about 20% of which is new. The wines are aged in the cellars for a minimum of twelve months prior to racking and blending followed by another 15-18 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant, vibrant Chardonnay, which exhibits ripe flavors of peach, apricot and grapefruit. The long finish offers lots of intense fruit and spice notes, with great integration and harmony coating your palate. Sublime! Pair with our freshly caught halibut or swordfish filets, white cream based sauces or enjoy hedonistically on its own.

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

Davis Estate Hungry Blond Carneros Chardonnay

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

Hungry Blond is a light hearted yet serious Chardonnay for the enthusiast. The fruit was sourced from the Poe Vineyard in the Carneros District, which sits adjacent to the famous Hyde Vineyard made famous by Paul Hobbs, Kistler, David Ramey as well as other superb talents. The wine is generous in flavor, but not over the top, which is why it made this month's newsletter. Crafted by none other than Cary Gott, the wine sees very little if any oak, and is impressively harmonious and quite lively. The vivacious style of this wine shows tremendous versatility, from steamed clams or mussels, to crustaceans, to finfish and stands up admirably to our stuffed chicken breast or house Chicken Fiesta Sausages. Somewhat Chablis-like in style, it refreshes rather than coats, so also acts as an aperitif, but there is ample texture and depth to this beauty. It is a fresh alternative to the big tropical fruit-bombs that have become all the rage.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Qupe Santa Barbara Chardonnay Dodgers Club Series

Reg $28.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

This Southern California Chardonnay is based on Qupe's famed Y Block Chardonnay and enhanced by 9% Bien Nacido Roussanne and 7% Bien Nacido Block Eleven Chardonnay, giving it a bit more structure and complexity. As for the flavors? Let's just say they were lovingly constructed with the Dodgers in mind, a white gem, that is vibrant, forward and refreshing, meant to be enjoyed on a sunny game day. Aromas of citrus, lemon cream and honey combine with toasty oak, yellow apple and orange blossom to create this refreshing Chardonnay. On the palate, flavors of citrus, green apple, honey, light cream and cantaloupe, with great texture, bright acidity and balance, making this Chardonnay a great food-friendly wine. Pairs perfectly with crab cakes, roasted game hen or grilled pork chops.

Michael Gregory Certified Specialist of Wine and Merchandising Specialist

Gerard Maudry Terre des Caillottes Sancerre Blanc

Reg $21.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

The Loire Valley is a hotspot for one of our favorite varietals at Bristol Farms, and its rising popularity indicates that Sauvignon Blanc is not just a fad. Gerard Maudry is the 4th generation winemaker handling Domaine del la Chezatte, which was acquired in the early 1930's. The vineyards for Terre des Caillottes are heavily weighted to clay and flint, with a significant limestone presence. The gravel and fractured flint warm the vines post sundown, and add the regions signature mineral and smoke aromas. The wines feel is crisp and delicate, with vibrant lemon-lime, green apple, quince and stone fruit. Very lively and refreshing. Pair with shellfish, halibut, broiled lobster and the classic pairing, fresh goat cheese. Merveillieux!

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

Frei Brothers Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were whole-cluster pressed to maximize delicate flavors and preserve the naturally firm acidity. Sur lie aging gave this wine layers of complexity that extend through the mid-palate and culminate in a refreshing finish. A small portion of the wine was aged in American oak after fermentation. Bright acidity accompanied by aromas and flavors of lemon, lime, melon and fresh cut grass along with hints of vanilla and cream balance out the crisp palate.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Louis de Sacy Brut Grand Cru MV

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $29.99

The Sacy family has been making wine for twelve generations, and this experience and expertise enables them to produce lovely, lush, versatile wines. Golden-yellow colored, this wine consists of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir from two Grand Cru classified vineyards, with 10% of reserve wines kept from previous vintages added for depth and complexity. It boasts a generous nose full of candied fruit, toast, spice, and lemon. Richly balanced and elegant with copious minerality, pair it with smoked salmon, shrimp kebabs, cheese plates, or sushi. A wonderful wine to toast to the new school year.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Maddalena Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Grigio

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $10.99

At first glance, you might think you've just picked up a rose or even a white Zinfandel. What you do have is a very eye-catching Pinot Grigio from Monterey County, where Pinot Grigio grapes seem to thrive in the morning fog and afternoon breezes. Aromas of citrus & wildflowers, and flavors of pear & green apple will brighten your glass. Being able to pair with most dishes makes Maddalena Pinot Grigio a very versatile (and colorful) wine.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly West

Honig Vineyard Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $15.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

One of the great values to come out of the Napa Valley is this crisp white with just a touch of Semillon and Muscat for added complexity. Further nuances are added by including a small portion of the wine from neutral oak barrels. Citrus is the dominant profile of this wine with white peach and pear lingering on the clean and crisp finish. Estate vineyards from the very center of the Napa Valley provide the terroir. And the Honig family's passion for fine wine shows through in every vintage.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Bonterra Mendocino County Chardonnay

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

As a fitting conclusion to our summer season, it's a great time to enjoy some California Chardonnay! Bonterra Vineyards is known for their value of Organic and Biodynamic wines, and their Chardonnay is a great organic wine for the average Californian. Handled with care, and given distinct calculations, this white is divided 30% into stainless steel to preserve Chardonnay's fresh lemon citrus and zest notes. The rest of the grape is fermented in a combination of French and American Oak; these types develop a lot of layers to Chardonnay that we love, specifically, oak, some spice, sweet creme, vanilla, and honey - all these delicious tasting notes come from malolactic fermentation. This lovely wine has aromas of green apples and zesty citrus that pairs perfectly with both our own Bristol Farms Gouda, imported from Holland, and our Wisconsin Mango Fire Cheddar Cheese! Cheers to a warm summer's end!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Giacomo Bologna Braida Brachetto d'Acqui

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

Giacomo Bologna - known as "Braida" - inherited his love of Barbera from his father's small plot of grapes in the town of Rocchetta Tanaro in Piedmont. He successfully created subtle and complex wines from what was known primarily as a "table wine" in his village, giving a new reputation to Barbera as one of Italy's top grapes. He also produces indigenous varietals such as Moscato, Grignolino and this tasty beauty - Brachetto. With its low alcohol and light fizz, this wine is a fragrant and elegant dessert wine. Light red in color, fresh and lively, with aromas of roses, strawberries and other red fruits, it is sweet and delicate on the palate. In Piedmont it is a traditional pairing for chocolate, berries, nuts, figs and dried fruits. I served it recently at the end of a leisurely outdoor brunch with chocolate covered strawberries and it was the perfect finale to a wonderful afternoon with friends.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine

Reg $27.99 | Gazette Special $23.99

Founded in 1981, Roederer Estate is nestled in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley. Champagne Louis Roederer builds upon centuries of traditional fine wine making, coupled with the fact that all grapes are grown on the Estate. This sparkling wine made of 100% Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Oak-aged wines from the Estate's Reserve Cellars are added to the blend, creating a multi-vintage cuvee in the traditional Louis Roederer style. The fermentation takes place in high-grade stainless steel tanks. The Roederer Estate Brut is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. It is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood