The Grapevine Gazette

May 4 - 31 , 2016

May was named for the Greek goddess Maia. And much like the ancient Greeks who could balance good living with an appreciation of nature and her abundance, we too enjoy our diversions in life - the most famous horse race in the United States, the Kentucky Derby, gets a quick start out the gate. Mother's Day, the busiest day for floral arrangements and telephone calls, reminds all of us that in the end, our hearts really do belong to Mom. The Indianapolis 500 is held on the Sunday before that memorable weekend of the month, Memorial Day. And much like the oft repeated introduction to that famous American car race, ladies and gentlemen, start your barbeques! Scour the grill, strike up the coals, prep the k-bobs! We've included every possible variation of wine selection for your choice of grill item, be it protein or veggie - From sparkling wine and scintillating whites to bold reds. So kick off your heels, take a deep breath and believe that every day is a weekend, for Summer is about to open her warm arms to us. And as always enjoy responsibly, and drink outside the box.

Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Reg $57.99 | Gazette Special $44.99

90 Points Wine Advocate. Chateauneuf-du-Pape finds its way onto our shelves, and pages, quite frequently, and for good reason. We really like them. What's not to like? Primarily Grenache, the profile is generous, fulfilling, and spicy, we love spicy. Hailing from the Southern Rhone valley, the sundrenched hills are rugged, almost like a lunar-scape in some areas, and largely consists of three main soil types. Large pebbles, fractured limestone and sand are the three main types, each brings a different nuance to this world class wine. Compiling the numerous grape varieties grown in these diverse soils is an art unto itself, and identifies the house style. Pierre Usseglio is a modern traditional producer with a solid grasp of the terroir, with brothers Jean-Pierre and Thierry managing the family's 17 parcels of vineyards. The Cuvee Traditionelle is classic Chateauneuf, with ample black raspberry, licorice, leather and the telltale Garrigue, provençal herbs, that is the signature of the region. It is rich, round and supple, with finely integrated tannins. As this was a difficult vintage with small yields, much of the reserve wines went into this cuvee. It is outright delicious with grilled meats, savory dishes, roasted pork loin, or anything wild.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Reserve de Leoville Barton St. Julien

Reg $42.99 | Gazette Special $32.99

2010 was a blockbuster vintage in Bordeaux with St. Julien and the left bank being rated 98 points from The Wine Advocate. A lot of great wines were produced, but along with superb quality comes an unsettling price. The greats of the vintage sell for well into the high hundreds, with 4 digit stickers not uncommon. And who has the disposable income for that? Collectors always find reason to justify this behavior, but consumers are alienated due to the exorbitant demands. These prestigious wineries also produce more approachable wines that are culled from the very same vineyards, often young vines, but not measuring up to the standards of their premiere offering. That's where we regular folks can enjoy these wonderful wines from a noble producer at a reasonable rate. Cht. Leoville Barton (Rated 96+ Wine Advocate) is admittedly a beastly wine, that Robert Parker forecasts won't be ready until 2028 on the early side, so investing well over a C-note now to wait more than a decade seems a bit frivolous. But maybe I am just jealous. La Reserve de Leoville Barton offers ample yet tightly knit blackberry, black currant, slightly roasted notes, gravel, tobacco and brush notes. It is definitely youthful, but is beginning to meld with truffle and secondary earth notes developing. Well suited to venison, lamb, blue veined cheeses and of course wild mushrooms.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Carnivor California Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

90 Points Wine Spectator 2013. A great example of a California style Cabernet Sauvignon. Bold, yet smooth, beautifully balanced. With notes of blackberry, coffee, mocha, and toasted oak all backed with a distinctive smoothness - can you say soft tannins - and a lingering silky finish. Pair this wonderful wine with New York strip steak with mushroom risotto and a Caesar salad. This one will take a big bite out you, but not your wallet.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Decoy Sonoma County Zinfandel

Reg $26.99 | Gazette Special $22.99

This is a vivid Zinfandel with abundant fruit highlighted by juicy blackberry and dark plum layers as well as hints of blueberry, mocha and dark chocolate. On the palate, luscious velvety tannins carry the wine to a lingering finish that concludes with just a touch of ripe berry sweetness and peppery spice. It is great with BBQ beef.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

L'Oliveto Russian River Chardonnay

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

Made by the Brack Mountain Wine Company, L'Oliveto is 100% Chardonnay sourced from one of the oldest vineyards in the Russian River Valley. This wine offers a dense, complex nose that suggests freshly baked pie crust, lemon curd, melon and ripe apricot. The palate is creamy, with notes of buttered toast, Asian pear and pie spice, balanced by crisp Fuji apple and lifting minerality. Try with our stuffed chicken breast, stuffed salmon fillets or pasta tossed with diver scallops.

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

Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay

Reg $34.99 | Gazette Special $29.99

At Duckhorn Vineyards, they have been making wine using grapes from the finest Napa Valley vineyards for over 35 years. This Chardonnay is made with classic French oak barrel fermentation with lees stirring, resulting in a well-balanced and complex Chardonnay. It offers aromas of white peach, lime, melon and vanilla. On the palate, flavors of honeycrisp apple, lemon and pear are underscored by balanced oak. It is great with seafood, creamy chowders and mild cheeses.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Buoncristiani Napa Valley Chardonnay

Reg $44.99 | Gazette Special $39.99

Buoncristiani is a family owned and operated winery in Napa that has been around since 2005. The wine that is produced by the four brothers of the Buoncristaini name is some of the best wines I have personally had the pleasure to taste. Prior to the '05 opening of the family vineyard, skills were honed at such wineries as Hess, Krupp Bros. and Remridg. If the word "ultra-premium" has a place in the wine world, it would be on a bottle of Buoncristiani. This Chardonnay has a focus on fruit, minerality, and balanced acidity. Scents and flavors of pear and green apple will dance around a new French oak richness to a long lingering finish. They need to make these bottles larger- it's that good. Pair with fish, pasta, poultry and veggies.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly Hills

Rochioli Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Reg $64.99 | Gazette Special $54.99

The Rochioli Vineyard name has long been synonymous with exceptional grape quality, and for the last 36 years Rochioli Winery has become renowned for producing outstanding estate wines. This chardonnay is a fine example of the unique characteristics the Russian River Valley. This is full of ripe Fuji apple, subtle caramel, with great acidity that nicely balances the slight creamy texture. Pair this white gem with grilled chicken and rich pasta dishes.

Michael Gregory Certified Specialist of Wine

Cashburn Central Otago Pinot Noir

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

Cashburn is the 2nd label of Burn Cottage, one of the top vineyards for Pinot Noir in New Zealand. Bio-dynamically farmed, the wine is made by "flying winemaker", Ted Lemon (of Littorai, Sonoma.) He is passionate about terroir driven wines. With complex aromas that jump out of the glass - reminiscent of fresh juicy blackberries, transcendental florals with hints of clove and licorice. It's one of those wines that you'll want to swirl and sniff for a long time before sipping. The enticing flavors are just as complex, more like fresh strawberries, raspberries and cherries with dusty earthy notes. Aged 12 months in oak, this wine is lovely, bright and elegant with a long lingering finish. Fire up the grill for wild caught Alaskan salmon or New Zealand lamb lollipops.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Specialist Manhattan Beach

Domaine Champs Perdrix Bourgogne Pinot Noir

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Pinot Noir is one of the most tricky, yet revered wines on the planet. Granted, it isn't for everyone, but it sure holds its own on the worlds stage. It comes in many forms, predicated on its origin. Hot climates generate big bold, flashy wines with extract and concentration, whereas cooler zones deliver a more subtle, delicate, vibrant style. Both have a place at the table. Burgundy, France, this is where Pinot generates the most interest, and each village brings a nuance not found anyplace else. Domaine Champs Perdrix leans to the more elegant side with brighter fruit and more purity. There is focus, a grace often mistaken for light, but it is all there with ample flavor. This is a wine that is not a cocktail, but is suited to clean foods, not a lot of seasoning but fresh caught tuna, poached salmon, a pork loin or grilled chicken. This is a great intro to French Burgundy that certainly enticing to the pocketbook as well.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Bench Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

91 points Wine Enthusiast 2013. Sourced primarily from the cool climate Sangiacomo Vineyard with a dollop of the Russian River Valley's Hurst Vineyard kicked in for good measure, this blend adds additional depth, structure and complexity. Just before fermentation was completed, the wine was pressed off of the skins and transferred to French oak barrels. The wine spent nine months in barrel, 30% of which was new. The bouquet offers intense, dark forest fruit and notes of plum while the palate is tightly focused with bright currant, cola and cedar notes. The mouthfeel is supple with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this delicious Pinot. And the food pairings are endless - Charcuterie, cheese, poultry, duck, salmon, ham, wild game and roasted root vegetables.

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

Mercat Cava Brut Nature NV

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $11.99

91 Points Wine Advocate. In 1872, Josep Raventos began experimenting with Spanish wines made in the same manner as was being done in Champagne, France – thus, Cava was born. But unlike Champagne, the D.O. Cava designation is defined by a specific practice of winemaking, rather than a region where wine is made. So, yes, you can have your Cava and drink it too! Mercat spends a minimum of 18 months aging on its lees and is finished with a very low dosage, allowing the chalky soils on which the old indigenous vines are grown, to shine through on the palate. The nose bursts with rich pear, green apple and hints of cream. On the palate the wine shows great finesse and balance with notes of papaya and pear rounded out with hints of hazelnuts, finishing with crisp acidity and freshness. This delicious beauty will enhance any poultry or seafood cuisine, as well as hit the mark as a solo sipper.

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

Domaine Allimant-Laugner Cremant d'Alsace Rose

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Since I am of the viewpoint that refrigerators should always contain a bottle of something bubbly, and I love dry French roses, it's no surprise that this pale salmon-pink affordable Alsatian sparkler often finds its way into my fridge. Crafted from 100% Pinot Noir in the traditional Champenoise method, it's nicely structured with tiny bubbles, tart fresh strawberry and wild cherry flavors, crisp acidity, hints of minerals, and a silky smooth finish. A very easy drinking wine that will go nicely with rotisserie chicken, mushroom risotto or brunch with Mom.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Justin Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

The grapes for this wine are sourced from vineyards throughout the Paso Robles AVA and benefited from a warm and dry climate during the growing season, perfect conditions for Sauvignon Blanc in the Central Coast. The fruit is whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks with no malolactic fermentation to retain fresh fruit aromas and flavors. This light golden yellow-colored wine pulls you into the glass with fresh aromas of grapefruit, peach, and green apple, along with a subtle note of grassiness. On entry, crisp flavors of lemon, green apple, dried herbs and subtle vanilla lead to a finish that's clean and slightly tart, with palate-cleansing acidity. Fire up the barbecue, and pair this beauty with grilled or sauteed vegetables (Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few wines that matches well with asparagus), shrimp or chicken off the grill.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

The Paring California Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

90 Points Wine Advocate. California's Central Coast has long been a source for superb fruit, and the last decade or two they have really exceeded what most thought possible. While Burgundian varietals thrive, some Bordeaux types also flourish in the warmer climes. Sauvignon Blanc seems particularly adapted to the undulating hills and long cool growing season. The Paring, a sister to the highly acclaimed Jonata winery, is also crafted by Matt Dees, with select vineyards that bring unique elements to a unique wine. While generous in texture and depth, it boasts a brilliant citrus zest, lemony, almost piquant character. There is nothing shy or missing here, it is distinctly Sauvignon, but reminiscent of Bordeaux meets Loire. Delicious and satisfying with seared swordfish or nicoise salad.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Fume Blanc

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $25.99

When customers ask me what's the best Sauvignon Blanc we sell (yes, Fume Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc, created by Robert Mondavi as a marketing ploy when he added elements of oak, thus "fume" or smoke), I always think of this wine first. There are other great SB's from other places made in different styles. But for a 100% Sauvignon Blanc from California this one is the best. The grapes are grown in certified organic vineyards in the cool climate of American Canyon and Carneros. The fermentation takes place in huge oak casks and small French barrels that are not new so some richness is imparted but not the flavor of oak. The flavors are rich yet crisp, surprisingly complex, and redolent of exotic fruits like lychee. The wine has a structure and balance that remind me of Pouilly Fume from France. It will go with a surprising range of foods from salads to grilled meat.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Castello Romitorio Rosso di Montalcino

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $24.99

While some suffice to allow machinery to produce mathematically perfect wines to be scored by trade tasters, others refine the edges past aerodynamics toward sculpture and weave intricate Missoni like patterns in an effort to remain classically Italian. The 12th century Castello Romitorio is one such hybrid of modernization and celebrated heritage. Proprietor Sandro Chia's respect for the Sangiovese grape has produced a balance of structure and forwardness that allows for extended aging while respecting a long decanting in its youth. The instant nose of tart cherry is unfading while layers of herbs, spice and leather intermingle. The taste is a wonderful mix of herbaceous fruit forwardness with a firm tannic foundation that releases with time outside the bottle. Finishing long and memorable, this wine is a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys a wine that tastes as beautiful as the bottle it's displayed in.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Olivier Leflaive Chassagne-Montrachet

Reg $69.99 | Gazette Special $59.99

91 Points The Wine Advocate 2013. Chassagne is a long, wandering village in the Cote de Beaune where it is most famous for its white wines; although there is also delicious and noteworthy Chassagne rouge. It is also one of the few places in the Cote D'Or where both red and white wines are produced from Premier Cru vineyards. And speaking of pedigree, the Grands Crus of Montrachet, Batard Montrachet (both shared with the neighboring village of Puligny) and Criots Batard Montrachet hail from this spot. "Ca c'est bon" as the French would say. Intense aromas of lemon, grapefruit and white flowers abound while the palate boasts apple blossom, peach and yellow plum. Mouthwatering acidity and minerality balances out the lengthy finish. Match with poultry, shellfish and seafood dishes, or enjoy hedonistically on its own.

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

Mustiguillo Mestizaje Bobal Terrerazo

Reg $14.99 | Gazette Special $12.99

91 Points Wine Advocate 2013. Ok, a very strange name, which suggests that what's in the bottle must be excellent! And it is. A blend of 78% Bobal (Bobal is a variety of Vitis Vinifera, a red grape that derives its name from the Latin "bovale", in reference to the shape of a bull's head) and the rest Garnacha, Syrah, Tempranillo and Merlot. They are fermented with indigenous yeast, selected from their older vineyards and aged separately. There is superb integration of oak and a very aromatic profile on the nose full of flowers and red berries with hints of aromatic herbs. The pleasant palate is medium-bodied, supple, has very fine tannins, good freshness and is easy to drink. This versatile wine pairs with a wide variety of foods, from pizza to barbeque ribs and pork.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

Reg $9.99 | Gazette Special $7.99

I've worked in the wine business, retail and restaurants, for almost 40 years. At some point along the way I came across this wine that met at the crossroads of my search for a tasty red and my limited budget. This is the wine I take home. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, it has great minerality and freshness. Though primarily made from Grenache, it is the Syrah variety that dominates this vintage. You get nice, concentrated aromas of red and black fruit, with flavors that are fresh and full-bodied. The tannins are soft and give a long aromatic finish. The wine is tremendously versatile. I like it with almost any preparation of beef, lamb, or poultry.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Yalumba South Australia Y Series Viognier

Reg $11.99 | Gazette Special $9.99

How's this for historical pedigree - Having just turned 35, Samuel Smith departs his hometown of Wareham, England with his wife Mary and their four children. Boarding a three-masted ship called China, the family set sail from Plymouth to Port Adelaide, arriving 11 days before Christmas. After a short time in Adelaide, the family treks north to a small settlement called Angaston. Samuel works as a gardener and in 1849 plants his own vineyard with son Sidney. They have since become one of the largest and brightest stars in Australia. Their Viognier offers vibrant peach and melon aromas, complemented by a nuance of honey. Silky and fruity on the palate, offering juicy pit and orchard fruit flavors that tighten up with air. An elegant, restrained rendition of this often flamboyant variety, it finishes with firm grip and good zesty persistence.

Brian Moore Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Stolpman Santa Ynez Viognier

Reg $21.99 | Gazette Special $17.99

It's Spring time! The hillsides in Ballard Canyon - Santa Barbara County's newest AVA - are green and covered with wildflowers. Viognier compliments this season with its beautiful floral aromas. At Stolpman vineyards, Viognier was initially planted as a blending grape for Roussanne and to co-ferment with Syrah, but eventually the small production 100% Viognier became a cult favorite in the tasting room. While the aromas of white flowers and tangerines entice your nose, the wine luxuriously coats your palate with flavors of yellow peach, crisp pear and orange blossoms. Clean and dry with a long lingering finish.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Specialist Manhattan Beach

Decoy Sonoma Chardonnay

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

For our Spring time, I have revisited the well-known Duckhorn wines, and the Decoy Chardonnay I found to be quite dazzling for the season. Decoy has been a 2nd tier of Duckhorn with a great flavor profile that is gentle on the pocket book. Delicious pear and apple notes are accentuated by a brilliant lemon and citrus. Most of the juice was fermented in stainless-steel, with 25% put into barrels. The small proportion of oak gives this wine a mild vanilla finish yet leaves you with a vibrant palate of crisp fruit flavors and acidity that will pair with many types of dishes. Decoy by Duckhorn has had great positive feedback, from novice wine enthusiasts to connoisseurs. Enjoy with our selection of Smoked Gouda, Gruyere, and many other types of cheeses!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Reg $17.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

92 points The Tasting Panel 2013. Ron Rubin has created a range of distinctive wines for your enjoyment - their terroir begins with people who have grown and produced these wines. It's about the geography of the Russian River Valley, the soil types of this region and the cool, Russian River climate best known for creating Burgundian-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Soft creamy notes of apples, pears and spices envelope the senses, with added aromas of vanilla and toasty oak. This Chardonnay is very balanced and approachable with crisp fruit flavors, hints of vanilla and toasty oak. This fruit-forward white is wonderful when enjoyed with hard cheeses, beet salad and chicken.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

J Vineyards California Pinot Gris

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

As warmer weather approaches, there is nothing quite like a great crisp white to enjoy with friends or as an aperitif. Original proprietor, Judy Jordon, based the winery in the Russian River Valley and focuses on Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Sparkling wine. The Pinot Gris is their flagship bottling and is bursting with aromas of pears and white flowers. It has bright flavors of Meyer lemon and tropical fruit laced with minerality. This wine will pair well with a variety of different foods Sushi, Asian, Pacific Rim, and of course all Salmon dishes. Highly recommended.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills